The other day while on a walk with a friend, our conversation revolved around the exhaustion we felt from teaching all day. She hit me with a statement I have to share: “Talk for curriculum, not for behavior.” To help conserve our energy she suggests we talk for instructional purposes only. When directing behaviors, we should stay silent. This might be the secret to our sanity as teachers!
As a teacher for many years, I’ve implemented a few processes to conserve my mental and physical energy. Give these 5 classroom management strategies a try!
Whisper - Use a calm, quiet and slow voice when instructing throughout your day. One of the best days I had as a 7th grade math teacher was when I pretended to lose my voice and whispered all day. The energy in my classroom was definitely lower than normal. Students worked, spoke and moved about the room more quietly than any other day.
Attention Spot - Whenever beginning a lesson, I have a special spot I stand in. When students see me standing there, it is their cue to turn their attention my way. Once they quiet down, I begin my teaching with a whisper voice.
Hand Raise - Sometimes the Attention Spot isn’t an option to communicate that it’s my turn to speak. When we are gathering in line to leave the classroom or I’m standing in an area that isn’t my Attention Spot, I simply raise my hand. When students see me raise my hand it’s their cue to turn their attention my way. On average I find it takes about 20 seconds for them to quiet down.
Display Directions - In the morning I display what students need to do on the board in front of the room. I use my whisper voice to welcome them, thus keeping the energy level low. Many kids love this calm start to the day. Throughout the day I continue to display directions when students transition to independent work time or move to small groups. If students have questions about what they need to do, I point to the visual directions and do not speak. This process helps grow problem solving and independence in children. It requires them to use their resources, the displayed directions, to determine what needs to be done.
Wait Time - This does not refer to wait time on student responses. This relates to transition time from one activity to the next. To implement, you freeze as the teacher! That is, stand still. Don’t wander the room. I stand in one spot until students are engaged in their independent work. As I stand, I scan the room to determine who might need my assistance and proceed by moving slowly and quietly to individually instruct. If students have questions I point to the displayed directions I have posted in the front of the room.
If you’d like to dig deeper into the concept of “talking for curriculum, not behavior” review Michael Grinder's work. He shares many great classroom management techniques you can implement to conserve your mental and physical energy.