One of the biggest classroom management challenges that presents itself is getting students to listen. Without fail, every year, there is a child in your classroom that is talkative and/or struggles with listening to you. How you handle these particular students will determine whether the rest of the year will go smoothly or not. Here are some strategies that I like to implement to help me get students to listen.
Getting Students to Listen
1.) Do not talk until you have everyone’s attention. While you may feel that you will be standing there forever waiting, that is not the case. In the beginning, it will definitely take a little longer than normal, but over time, they will take notice that you are waiting and quiet down quicker. This is especially true if there are consequences tied to every minute you have to wait on them. When you choose to talk over them while they are talking, you are saying that it’s okay that they talk when you do and you aren’t showing respect for yourself. If you don’t show respect for yourself, they won’t either.
2.) Redirect students who aren’t listening instead of drawing attention to them. Often we draw attention by stopping what we are doing and telling them what not to do in front of the entire class. This creates negative attention and every student’s eyes are on them. Instead, continue teaching but while doing so, move toward the student and redirect him or her through a motion of what s/he should do. Focusing on the positive is much better.
3.) Slip in attention-grabbing language occasionally. Occasionally say something abnormal such as “pepperoni” or “if you can hear my voice, clap three times.” This will definitely take students by surprise and make them want to stop and listen to what you said. If you say it too often, it could become a sound that gets tuned out.
4.) Use proximity to help a student focus on you. Anytime a teacher moves near a student, they typically stop what they are doing and at the very least pretend to pay attention. Sometimes you will need to stand near the student a while (or eventually move the student near where you are most often) while teaching.
5.) Teach C3B4 me. I provide instructions and then it’s up to my students to get started. If they missed the instructions, they need to quietly see three other reliable students to find out what to do before they come to me. The rule is that if they go to one person and are told the directions, they still need to go to two other students to get those same directions to make sure they are all saying the same thing. This helps them practice listening skills and tells me that if there is a discrepancy, I likely need to address the whole class. Students do not come to me unless there is a discrepancy among any of the directions provided by the three students.
6.) Provide lots of practice. When it comes to getting students to listen, you can do this by having them practice frequently. Create lots of discussion opportunities and use speaking and listening sentence starters to assist. You can find free speaking and listening cards here. Another way students can practice listening skills while reviewing important science concepts is through the use of causation cards. These cards require students to listen carefully to each student read their card off to know when it’s their turn to read theirs. You can learn more information about these by heading here or pick up a free set here.
7.) Teach listening skills. It seems so simple that sometimes we overlook it. Take a few minutes and model for your students what active listening looks like and even consider role-playing it.
With these 7 ideas implemented in your classroom, you’re likely to have more students listening to you and fewer students talking when they shouldn’t. Classroom management will vary from year to year with each set of students, however, you can maintain some control with strong management skills and consistency. Getting students to listen doesn’t always have to be a challenge!