Tch Tips: How to Deal with a Chatty Classroom

Tch tips

Your students just won’t stop talking. You feel like you’re constantly talking over people just to be heard. We’ve all been there!

If your classroom has become too chatty, start by figuring out if the talk is productive or not. Sometimes talking is actually a good thing. If students are talking about the task at hand, you may want to encourage them to continue (just at a quieter volume!). But if students are off task and chatty, this requires a different approach.

Use these tips to help your classroom become more peaceful:

Start Off Quiet

If students come into a chatty classroom, they’re more likely to continue (and possibly increase) the noise. But if they enter a calm and quiet classroom, they’ll be encouraged to keep the same noise level throughout the class. Watch how teacher Marlo Warburton starts her class with a “silent start” and pay attention to the effect it has on the rest of the class.

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Encourage Active Listening

The flipside to talking is listening. If you engage students in active listening, they’ll be more likely to let one person talk at a time. For young students, just learning how to listen can be a process. Try playing Tootie-Ta to teach listening skills, then encourage whole-body listening. Watch how students of all ages can be engaged in conversations by sharing the contributions other students make.

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Try Silent Signals

Silent signals go a long way to decrease the amount of noise in the classroom. Watch how teacher Stacey Brewer uses hand signals to facilitate conversations in her classroom. Want to get ideas for more silent signals to use? Check out how silent signals can build metacognitive skills and how they can be used in the math classroom.

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Use Talk Moves

Sometimes students are chatty because they need help engaging in academic conversation. Teach students how to productively participate in conversations by using talk moves. Talk moves are a great way to develop communication skills and support students in having academic discussions.

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Channel Chattiness into Productive Talk

Some students are just chattier than others. Watch how teacher Chuck Pack uses extroverts in his classroom and think about how you could channel chattiness into productive talk. Consider using peer teaching as a way for students to talk about their thinking with each other. Check out this video for one example of peer teaching through expert groups.

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How do you deal with chattiness in your classroom? Share your ideas in the comments below so we can all learn from each other.

Lily Jones taught K/1 for seven years in Northern California. She has experience as a curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher trainer, and is also a contributing writer for Teaching Channel.

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