Well, hello there, my beautiful friend, and welcome back. The reason that you’re here is how to mute your class. Wow, doesn’t that sound dreamy, a mute button for your noisy class. I’m so sorry to let you down. But there is no mute button. Oh, it hurts to say it. I know you were hoping for it. But it’s okay, I’m going to give you the next best thing.
Let’s give the podcast a new name!
Before we get to today’s topic, I want you to help me rename the podcast! The podcast is in between names, because we’re looking to give it a fresh new name that really reflects its purpose. So before we get started on a super fun topic for today, I would love to ask you to take the SURVEY and help me give this baby a new name. I want to share joy and support and encouragement with you. And I want everyone who sees this podcast to say, wow, that is the podcast where I could go to find some teacher joy.
So there are a few names that I’ve thought of, but there’s also a place for you to share a unique name. And I would not care to claim that if you would allow. Let’s give this podcast the name that it deserves. And one more thing, if you find today’s content to be helpful to you in any way, I’m sure you have a teacher friend who needs to hear it as well. So do them a kindness, and share it with someone. That would mean the world to me.
Where’s that mute button again??
There is no mute button, unfortunately. But there are layers that you can put into place that can help you achieve your goal of quieting your class. I wish there was a simple switch to flip. But there’s not. We have to put some work and effort into it. We want something that is sustainable, that works consistently and isn’t hard to manage over time. We could, of course, give out prizes constantly throughout the day. But that could run into a lot of money. And it also takes a lot of time.
We need systems in place that support our goal every day and make it as easy as possible for us. So to quiet a noisy class, it takes well planned systems. And before we can even get to what systems are needed, you first need to pinpoint where the problem areas are. Finding solutions that actually work is easier when we can pinpoint and understand their purpose.
How One Teacher Muted Her Class During a Transition
So as an example, I want to mention one of my coaching clients and how we pinpointed her problem and really found an effective solution. This particular teacher told me that she really struggled because her class was so noisy. The noise levels were out of control, and it was stealing away her happiness in the classroom. I asked her this question: at what point of the day do you really recognize that it’s too loud?
She walked through her day from the beginning and talked me through what was going on in her classroom. And we pinpointed the exact moment of the day when her students got noisy and out of control. It turns out her students are quite calm and engaged for the biggest part of her day. But during one of the transition times from PE over into her ELA block, students are really noisy. She got frustrated with them, and she found it hard to get into the teaching part of her day.
Pinpoint the Problem
She realized that it was because her students were coming out of the noisy gym with a PE teacher all the way down the hall to meet her, and she didn’t have time to properly calm them down and help them refocus before entering the classroom.
It was a very simple fix. Now she goes to the gym teacher, picks up her kids, has a talk with them, gets them calmed down, and then they quietly go into the classroom. She immediately saw big results. We also added in some other strategies when entering the room and having their snack that really helped.
But what I’m trying to illustrate to you here is that once you pinpoint the issue, the solutions are actually pretty simple. So walk through your day, maybe write it down and examine your feelings. If you start to feel stressed consistently at a certain part of your day, that means you need to find a solution for that.
Mute Button Strategy #1: Hand Signals
So after pinpointing your issue and really thinking about simple solutions, try implementing some of this in your day. Have you tried hand signals? Maintaining a quiet classroom is really hard when students are calling out their needs. One student says, “I need my pencil sharpened,” and the other students follow suit.
I personally do not accept students calling out anything. And they know that I reward them with encouragement and praise for not calling out, and that’s what they seek. I always give positive feedback when I see hand signals being used. I do have a free set of hand signal posters that you can DOWNLOAD. If you’ve not used this strategy, it is a great layer to add to muting your class. Students use these nonverbal cues to show you their needs like needing to use the restroom, needing a tissue, having the answer to a question, or needing their pencil sharpened.
Mute Button Strategy #2: Call Backs
Another way to actually quieten your class whenever they have reached a noise level that is unacceptable is not to use your voice and say guys quiet down, we’ve got to move on. Oh, what a huge waste of energy. Instead use a callback or use a chime to grasp their attention and teach them that this is the moment we have no voices.
I really like to use a strategy that I created where I say, “Eyes on your teacher.” And they repeat, “Eyes on your teacher.” And I say, “Hands like this,” but they’re looking to me to see what my hands are doing. They are to mimic my hands. My hands might be on my head, they may be stuck straight up in the air as far as I can reach. Or I may be doing something silly with my hands. What that accomplishes is it quiets them down, and it also puts their full attention on me, which is exactly what we need when those noise levels get out of control.
I also use bells and chimes and things like that. And I train my students that when they hear these things, I expect no voices, completely quiet, ready signal on, whatever I need them to do. I train them in that way, and I respond with positive feedback when they show me the result I need to see.
Mute Button Strategy #3: Gamify Noise Levels
Another layer that you can add is to gamify noise levels. Gamify just means to make it a game, and it’s a lot simpler than you may believe. I may set a timer and say, “Let’s compete. Who can work quietly the longest while my timer is on? Can you beat the quiet timer?”
Another strategy that I use is table points or character point. Assign each table a number or a character, and we compete throughout the day. If they show the positive behaviors that I’m after they can earn points. And at the end of the day, the winner gets rewarded.
So if I’m focusing on keeping my class muted or quiet, I might say, “I’m looking to give a table point to the sneakiest. table, the table who isn’t making any noise while we transition from our tables to the carpet.” That sort of language really helps to boost the engagement when you’re trying to use table points as a strategy.
I’ve also talked about the MUSIC BOX. This is another gamify strategy that helps me quiet in my class whenever needed. In a nutshell, the students do not want to let all of the music escape from our box, because at the end of the week, they will be rewarded for that. I use it strategically for different parts of the day. So anytime the music box is opened, as soon as they hear that music, they get quiet so fast, you could really hear a pin drop.
Mute Button Strategy #4: Be Consistent
I’ll share one last piece of advice here. And that is to always be consistent. I was working with another teacher, and she was talking about how noisy her class was, and how it just stresses her out so much. She couldn’t seem to control their noise levels. We walked through this process of pinpointing the problem. And the funny part about this is, she tells me she had implemented the strategies that really worked for her kids, she saw great results, and she was feeling calmer and more focused at work. And she, through her own speaking about this issue, realized that she actually had found the solution, but she wasn’t consistent with it.
She told me that during Christmas break, she got lacksadaisy with using this strategy. And her students, of course, immediately pick that up and they take advantage of it. Our little ones are so smart, and they know your limits. So, this particular teacher decided to put that back in full force. And of course, she saw immediate results.
Mindset + Strategy = Solution!
When we get our mindset right, and we put in some strategy, the solutions are actually simple. Try some strategies, see how they work, be ready to experiment with different things. Your solutions will come through as well. You’ll figure it out. You’re smart, you’re talented, you’re creative, just give some of your ideas a try.
So maybe we don’t have a mute button, but we can figure out the solutions. I hope something I’ve shared with you here today can help you accomplish just that. If you happen to invent a mute button, please share it with me so I can spread it to the world. If you have strategies that you use that you would like to share, please share them with me. Send me an email or post them in our Primary Teacher Friends Facebook community.
I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day and rest of your week. Enjoy your little ones and as always, until we meet again, go make a difference, teacher friend.