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Picture this: You have gotten your students started on some kind of group work, and they are buzzing right along. After a few minutes, you realize there’s an important piece of information you need to give the groups; maybe it’s a slight change in the original instructions, some hint that will make the work go more smoothly, or a next step that they need to know about.

One way to handle this, which is the route I often took, is to shout above the productive noise in the room until everyone has stopped talking in their groups and is looking at you, then deliver the information. While this certainly gets the message sent, it disrupts the flow of work happening in the groups and requires you to raise your voice, which many teachers would rather not do all day long. 

A different approach is to use huddles, where one representative from each group comes over to you, you “huddle up” in as tight a group as you’re allowed to by current social distancing guidelines, and you calmly give them the information. Once they have it, they can then return to their groups and deliver the message. No yelling needed, no disruption to the flow.  

This tip came up in episode 172 of my regular podcast, a conversation with Connie Hamilton about the Esteem level on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Although our main focus was not on group work, she used this as an example of ways to elevate students’ sense of esteem. Although it is a good classroom management strategy overall, it also has the added benefit of giving students an important role. So if you have a student who tends to be more shy or less inclined to take on a leadership role, giving them this responsibility might boost their feelings of efficacy and value in the group.

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