Constant interruptions are not only distracting, they’re wearisome. While most of our students outgrow their impulse to interject seemingly random thoughts during lessons or classroom activities, we’ve probably all encountered students who constantly vie for our attention. In lieu of “calling out” these students in front of their peers—which only further disrupts the flow of your lesson and embarrasses the disruptive student—give a few of these simple, but effective classroom management tricks a shot.
- Many students disrupt because they need to move around. If you can, find simple tasks or ways for these students to assist you with your lesson. If you are using a Power Point presentation, for example, give these students the opportunity to control the slides.
Another way to empower these students and re-channel their energy is by allowing them to be the “official writer on the board.” Instead of writing reminders and notes on the board yourself, have one of your energetic students take on this responsibility.
- In lieu of long lectures, provide opportunities for students to talk to one another and work in groups to solve problems. Provide each group with a detailed set of instructions and appoint those energetic students to be the “official secretary” for their groups. The secretary will be responsible for documenting the group’s conclusions and sharing them with the class once you come back together as a group to discuss the activity.
- Provide energetic students with a notebook in which they can write down thoughts, questions, or anything that is unrelated to the lesson. At the end of the day, review the notebook and discuss with the student.
- Provide students with “question tokens” (you can use anything from Monopoly money to Post-It notes) and explain that they have X-amount of tokens for the day. If students ask an unrelated question, they have to give up one of their tokens.
- Teach sign language symbols to all your students that reflect a question, comment, answer, restroom, water, wait a minute, etc. As long as you continue to stop and focus on the behavior you want changed, it won't. Consistency and patience with yourself and your students, along with positive reinforcement will help them to know how to get acknowledgement.
- Set aside time each day where students can talk about or ask any question they want. Another thing you can do is set aside question time that is related to the topic you’re teaching. By doing this, you won’t have to deny students the chance to ask questions; instead, you can simply remind him or her to save the question for question time.
- Take note of your students’ questions: Do you pick up any common threads? Do these questions give you more insight into what students are interested in? We bet they do. Use these questions to help you further develop your lesson plans or find books these students would enjoy reading on their own.
- Try the “Parking-Lot” strategy. If students have something off-topic to share, they can write it on a Post-It and stick it up on the parking lot bulletin board. After the lesson, grab the Post-Its and take some time to answer the questions.