Students tend to take advantage of any situation to demonstrate their power. Not all students do this individually, but as a group the mob mentality seems to take over. Even college classes have been known to harass the occasional proctor if the students know their grade does not depend on what he thinks of them. Teachers need to take back control of the class before any learning can take place.
Keep silent. Never attempt to speak over the group. It is far more effective to continue talking and lower your voice if necessary. Make the words "very important" audible enough so they can be heard and almost whisper the rest of the sentence. Usually this elicits their attention. Stop whatever you are doing or saying and stare at the class. Keep your mouth closed and simply watch them. Natural instincts give us all the ability to recognize when someone is staring at us and to react to it. Make certain that your eyes focus on each student who is talking. Continue until they cease.
Establish your importance and boundaries. Tell the group that you have no intention of talking over the din. Explain that you have a specific amount of information to give that day and expect to wait until it is quiet enough to begin. You may need to use the threat of working through a recess or lunchtime to accomplish this task. If you can have the lunch trays brought to the room, this tool is powerful. If you have no way of carrying out the threat, don't make it. Use a different tactic.
Explain that you would like them to learn but only they can control that part of the equation. Explain that there is no tolerance for someone creating a disruption that prevents others from learning. If they don't want to follow along, they can daydream about anything else, but not make any noise that disturbs others.
Allow as many bathroom or water breaks as necessary. Tell your children that all they need to do is write the time that they leave for the bathroom on the board, and do not need to ask. When they come back, they need to write the time of re-entry. The amount of time used is then deducted from recess or made up after school. If a child needs to use the facility, this will not be a deterrent to them, and you don't force them into the embarrassment of asking. Allow only one student at a time to be out of the room.
Keep calm when you ask a disruptive child to leave the room and wait outside the door. Tell her in a very firm voice that you will be out in a moment to deal with the situation. Never explain how you are going to deal with it and never go out with the student immediately. Walk him out if you must and place him in a specific spot that you can see. Ask hm to keep his face toward the wall and not the door. The more specific the directions and longer the wait, the more dramatic this punishment becomes and the more control you have over your classroom.
Identify the class leader and woo her to your side to control your classroom. Each member of the class is special in his own way. The class leader is not necessarily the best student or the most socially acceptable student, but is one that others follow. Find a way win him over and to use those abilities to your advantage. Always acknowledge the strength of each student in the class.
Maintain your composure at all times when you control your classroom. Remember you are the adult. Never reveal any weakness that can be used against you. If a child makes a cutting remark, take the time to examine the remark. Get feedback from the child. Be careful with this, as many will say things that you don't want to hear.
Rearrange seating assignments to clearly demonstrate a change in how the class will be run.
Check the school policy before instituting the rules on bathroom breaks. You may need to check with the principal first.
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