The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast, Episode 80 Transcript
Jennifer Gonzalez, host
GONZALEZ: In my first few years of teaching, student talking was like popcorn. I gave the class instructions for some kind of work. Let’s say journal writing. And for a few seconds, they did it. Things were quiet. Then, like that first kernel of popcorn, one said she didn’t know what to write, so I walked over to her desk to try and help her. While we talked, two more raised their hands–two more pops– and said they were stuck, too. I signaled to them that I’d be over in a minute, but in the meantime, someone else was closing his journal, finished already. Another pop. The two who were stuck asked him what he wrote about.
The room needs to stay quiet so we can concentrate, I told them.
Then someone else had a question. Another pop. I squatted by her desk, and behind me, a conversation started between two others. Pop pop. Another journal closed while a different hand went up.
Okay people, I said, this time louder. Let’s keep it down. And with rascally smiles, they turned back to their journals to pretend to write some more. At this point, it had turned into a game.
Someone needed to sharpen their pencil. Pop. Someone else decided to race them over to the sharpener. Pop. In a matter of seconds, the whole room had erupted, a huge hysterical bowl of popcorn, exploding all around me, and I couldn’t find my way out.
And then, I yelled.
It was like that on most days: They’d talk. I’d tell them to stop. They’d quiet down. They’d start again. I’d tell them to stop.
Looking back, I can see the error of my ways, and although I never quite mastered the problem, I definitely got better at it. But it took a lot of trial and error, year after year of of watching how other teachers did it to figure out how to manage a room full of chatty adolescents.
If this sounds anything like you, I want you to know you are so not alone. I hear it from teachers all the time. One of the things they don’t teach us in our education courses is just how freaking much students talk, and how hard it can be to quiet them down in order to get anything accomplished.
To find solutions to this problem, I went to Michael Linsin, the creator of Smart Classroom Management and my go-to person for all classroom management needs. Michael was a guest on episode 48, where he taught us how to set up a clear, simple classroom management plan. If you haven’t heard that episode, I would recommend you do so, maybe even before you listen to this one, because a few times during this interview, he refers to that plan.
In this episode, Michael and I talk about the causes of excessive talking, what you should be able to realistically expect from students, and how you can fix the problem.
Two quick caveats before I go on.
One: I believe students need to talk. People need to talk. So if you’re shooting for a classroom environment where students sit silently and do rote seatwork all day long, where students never have an opportunity to talk to their peers, where they never get out of their seats, and where the work is not engaging, you are going to have problems.
Two: A big part of good classroom management is building good relationships with your students. If you haven’t taken the time to get to know them as individuals, if you mispronounce their names, if you regularly use sarcasm and make them feel stupid for asking questions, then they aren’t going to want to behave well for you. And that’s a different problem.
So everything that we talk about in this episode is based on the assumption that you’re planning engaging lessons and that you have a decent relationship with your students. Without those two, these solutions might still work, but you’re still probably not going to love your job.
Before we dig into the details, I’d like to thank today’s sponsor, WriteAbout.com. WriteAbout is a writing community and publishing platform for classrooms, a space for daily writing across all genres and purposes. Think of it like a writer’s notebook with thousands of writing ideas that is also connected to an authentic audience. Inside Write About’s safe digital community, students are always 1 click away from starting a writing piece, reading and responding to their peers’ writing, or discovering engaging content that will make them want to write even more. Your students deserve a platform that can make their writing visible, authentic and fun. When students are engaged with their writing, they write more. Visit WriteAbout.com to start for free.
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Okay, let’s figure out this problem of excessive student talking once and for all. Here’s my interview with Michael Linsin of Smart Classroom Management.
GONZALEZ: You are just my go-to for all classroom management questions. When people write to me and ask the questions, I give them my best answer and then I say, “But you really need to go over to Smart Classroom Management.”
LINSIN: Oh that’s awesome.
LINSIN: I appreciate it.
GONZALEZ: So we’re trying to solve the problem today of excessive talking in the classroom. I’m hearing from teachers all the time saying they’re just going crazy trying to get students to stop talking. So you and I talked a little bit about this ahead of time and we sort of decided that we were going to first talk about the causes of the talking, what teachers’ expectations should be, realistically, and then what they can do to actually fix it, because this problem could have a lot of different root causes, and teachers listening are going to need to try to figure out after listening to us which area is their problem and then how they can fix it.
LINSIN: Yeah. So assuming we’re talking about excessive talking while the teacher is giving a directed lesson or during independent work time, because I think that’s the two areas that teachers really struggle with. And so if students are talking during that time, and you’re really struggling to get them to quiet down and you’re shushing and reminding and that kind of thing, then typically the reason why those students are doing that is because they either don’t really believe that you mean it, when you ask them not to talk. They don’t really believe that you really mean it, and we can dig deeper into that, or they don’t care, or they don’t really understand what “no talking” means, believe it or not.
GONZALEZ: Okay, that’s great. Okay, so let’s just take those things one at a time.
LINSIN: Okay, so the first one, the students don’t believe that you really mean it when you say so, somewhere along the line, either if you’re able to teach to a quiet classroom in the beginning of the year and then now you’re not able to or if it happened right off the bat, then somehow at some point, the students’ respect for you and for the process, for the classroom, and your authority has faded. So if things are going well in the beginning, but then three weeks, four weeks into the school year, now you’re having more and more talking, then the respect for you and your authority has faded, and we can talk about how to correct that.
LINSIN: Or another thing that’s really likely is that because so many teachers struggle with this problem, many after a while kind of throw up their hands and just decide they’re going to deal with it, they’re going to talk over students, they’re going to do their best to keep things as quiet as possible during independent work time, so the students come to you with having been in classrooms where the teacher asked them to be quiet but doesn’t really follow up on it. And so they have this habit of talking during these times.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. So they just don’t really believe that it’s a problem or that there’s going to be any kind of a consequence for it.
LINSIN: Yeah. And this is a complex issue, and that’s why we’re kind of talking around the problem right now, but the fix is pretty straightforward. So if your listeners are wondering where we’re going, I think it’s important we understand the reasons why. And then once we do that, then the fix is pretty direct and simple and straightforward.
GONZALEZ: Okay. You think it’s pretty important for teachers to understand what the cause is first before they start looking straight for the fix?
LINSIN: Absolutely. I think it’s critical, and I think it’s critical in all areas of classroom management to understand why things are happening.
LINSIN: Because otherwise you just start grasping at straws and trying this and that. And then the last one, which can be a surprise to many teachers, is that the students in many cases … So if everything else is going well in your classroom, but you’re just struggling with talking while you’re talking or talking during independent work time, then it’s a sign that your students don’t really understand what you mean when you ask them not to talk. You either didn’t communicate it in such a way for them to understand what it meant, and it takes far more in explanation and teaching what that means than most teachers realize. And then again, when they come to your classroom and they’ve had teacher after teacher say the same thing, yet continue to allow it to happen in the classroom, then students think, “Well, he or she just means that we need to kind of keep our voices down,” or that, “We’re mostly quiet, but if we have important things that we need to say to a neighbor, then we’re allowed to do that.” And so they’re confused as to what the definition of “quiet” really is. And younger students seem to bring this with them, kindergarten students seem to bring this with them into kindergarten. You can say, “There’s no talking during this time,” and just by watching them, you can tell they really have no idea what that means. But again, it doesn’t really matter, those whys, we’re still going to correct it, correct them in the same way.
GONZALEZ: So we’ve talked about the sort of causes or reasons. Are we going to move to the fixes or the sort of teacher expectations, what you should be expecting realistically?
LINSIN: Probably expectations, but before we get there, it’s important for me to mention that it can be a combination of these things, of the students not really getting what you’re asking them, even though you’ve plainly said there’s no talking, it means silence. They still, believe it or not, don’t really understand what that means. And so it could be a combination of that. Likely it’s a combination of that plus the respect for you and authority of the classroom is, like I said before, fading, so it’s sort of a combination of those things to kind of wrap it all up. That’s the key reasons for talking going on.
LINSIN: But as far as expectations, and I get this question a lot also, yes, you should absolutely expect, no matter where you’re teaching or grade level, that the students are able to sit quietly while you’re giving a directed lesson or when you’re giving instruction or directions, and they should be able to sit quietly and work during independent work times.
GONZALEZ: Okay. It sounds to me like that implies, though, that there might be other times when you should not be expecting total silence. Am I hearing that right?
LINSIN: Absolutely, absolutely. I think it’s really important to give, plus it’s good teaching, to give students an opportunity to express themselves and to get up and move around and to work in groups and to work in pairs and discuss. I’m all for that. I think classrooms should be vibrant and interesting, exciting places, and so I’m all for getting students up and moving and having fun. And in fact, those things just make classroom management stronger, and they free you to ask anything of your students, including silence.
GONZALEZ: Because, you know, I’m asking that, because sometimes I suspect that a teacher who’s really struggling getting students quiet, it might be that they aren’t allowing any time for explicit, “Yes you can talk at this time. You can have conversations with each other.” And so it’s sort of this constant, low-level hum, and the teacher’s constantly battling it out. There’s not a clear distinction between, “Now you can get out some of your energy and have a couple conversations and now you have to be totally silent.” I think the teachers who expect total silence all class period are just doomed to fail.
LINSIN: Yes, and you’re absolutely right. We’re now kind of segueing into the solution, and the word you used, “define,” that’s huge. And so I really believe it’s important before each new period or each new session of teaching that you define for your class what is expected during the next period. “So for the next 15 minutes we’re going to do this, and this is what’s expected. In other words, this is what you can and can’t do, and this is what you’re looking for.” Sometimes throughout the day, that might mean absolute silence. But you’re right: It’s certainly not something if you ask your students to be silent all day long and they’re just sitting all day long, they’re really going to struggle with that. But having said that, it still isn’t an excuse. So as a teacher, we should be able to ask for silence, ask for quiet, and be able to get it during those periods of when it’s best for students to be quiet.
GONZALEZ: Right, right. Are we going to get more into this? This is a new thing for me, listening to this sort of even for a 15-minute chunk of time that you are explicitly explaining to them. Is that something we’re going to talk about again as we get into the fixes, or are we there now? Are we in the fixes?
LINSIN: We’re not quite there yet, but yeah.
GONZALEZ: I just want to remember that if you weren’t going to get to it. Okay. Well what else do we need to talk about before the fixes?
LINSIN: Well, just that this definition you mentioned, it can be really, really brief, because of what the fix is.
LINSIN: So we can be really brief in explaining that during this particular time you’re going to be able to get up and move around the room, you can talk as loud as you want, but make sure that you don’t break the rules of the class, kind of thing. I think it’s really important … Any time you can give a reminder before misbehavior, it’s good, it’s a good thing. Anytime you give a reminder after you see misbehavior, it’s a bad thing. You should be holding students accountable, so that’s a quick way to lose control of your class. But whenever you can be preemptive, that’s a good thing.
GONZALEZ: So many teachers that I see who end up writing kids up and sending them to the office, when I hear their conversations about it later in the teacher’s lounge, I’m so often hearing the phrase, “Well, he knows better,” and “They know how they’re supposed to act,” and there’s a lot of assumption that just because kids have been taught at some point how they’re supposed to be behaving in a situation, that they shouldn’t have to be reminded ever again, and they should just know better. That again, that seems like a recipe for failure.
LINSIN: Yes. And, you know, many of those teachers really have never taught those students the behaviors that they would like to see in the classroom, which is the fix. So the fix is to define, in detail, exactly what you want during independent work time, because this is what we’re talking about, we’re talking about the times when you want those students to be silent, so independent work time and when you’re teaching a directed lesson. So we’re going to define what silence looks like and sounds like. And again, we want to dig deeper into that.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. Now I’m remembering our last podcast interview when you talked about walking them … Your level of explicitness is something that I think a lot of teachers never touch, and that’s one of the big keys, right, to your approach?
LINSIN: Yes, exactly right. And when we define, in explicit detail, what we expect, we’re going to go far deeper than probably most of your readers or far more detailed than most of your readers are doing right now. But what it does is it takes care of both of the reasons, or all three of the reasons, why those students are talking. So it’s going to simultaneously help them understand what it means, what “no talking” means, it’s going to cause them to care and care about you and believe you really mean it, because when you really teach something explicitly, you’re sending the message that, “Yes, I really do indeed mean it, and this is what I mean,” and at the same time, it also brings you into sharper focus, so your fading respect for you and authority starts becoming enhanced and starts coming back to maybe where it was the first couple of days of school.
LINSIN: Yeah. This is a complex issue with some simple answers, but there’s a lot to it.
GONZALEZ: Okay. So the fix itself is really just one main thing, and that kind of covers all the different causes?
LINSIN: Yes. And there are three parts to that main thing, but yes.
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Now back to the interview.
LINSIN: You know, this is really wonderful, and the fix is really wonderful, not just for talking but really for anything. So sloppy routine, and we can talk more about this, but when your students are, all of them or most of them, when they’re not doing something that you’ve previously taught them how to do, whether it’s talking or entering the classroom, and they don’t do it well, even though the students are responsible for their behavior, when that happens, most of the class is not doing what you ask, it’s on you. It’s about you. And so you need to reteach, because there’s some disconnect there, there’s something they’re not understanding.
GONZALEZ: Yes. I have a huge smile on my face now, because that’s just, oh. If people could just make that connection. It’s 50 million Elvis fans can’t be wrong. If that many of them are not doing what you’re supposed to do, it is not really them, it’s you–so fantastic.
LINSIN: Yeah, and so it’s really important. I’m really big on observing and awareness and detachment and those kinds of things, and so your finger, your wet finger’s up in the area constantly, feeling how are the winds blowing here, right? Especially in the beginning of the school year, and as soon as you see something amiss, you have to step in and fix it right on the spot. We don’t move on until we’re getting what we want from our students. And the thing of it is, Jenn, is that when we do that in the beginning of the year, then the rest of the year as well, everything’s pleasant right from the get-go. But we do less and less of that teaching as the year goes on, and by November, we’re doing almost none of it, because our students get it, they understand, and they’re in the groove of doing the right thing in the right way. They’re having fun, and you’re having this wonderful connection with them.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. Can you talk a little bit more about detachment, because I’ve seen you write about this before too, and I think it’s such an important piece. Was that you that wrote a piece about delivering your classroom management like a referee?
GONZALEZ: See, that’s what I was thinking when you mentioned “detachment.” I feel like especially at this time of year, in the U.S. anyway, we’ve got a lot of teachers that have been in school for a couple of weeks now, and now all of the behaviors are starting to kick in, and we take it so personally. I can remember sometimes my kids would start talking and I would think, “Why don’t they respect me?” And then I’d start getting upset, and then I would do stupid things, you know, that would make things so much worse. And so that metaphor of the referee is so perfect, because that’s the perfect detachment.
LINSIN: Yeah. Our stress comes from either trying to convince students to behave and/or taking their misbehavior personally.
GONZALEZ: Right, right.
LINSIN: And so if we get rid of those two, then our day is pretty awesome.
LINSIN: And so we can jump into the fix. So we talked about how it’s important that we define in detail what “no talking” means and what it looks like. And so practically, we must have a rule against it.
LINSIN: I always say that the rules, your rules and consequences, are important, but only a small part of classroom management. So it’s important that we have them, and that the rules protect learning and enjoyment in our classroom, but they’re a small part of classroom management, but they’re non-negotiable. So you have them, and then you must follow them to a “T.” So we have to have a rule that forbids talking during those times. I recommend just a simple, general rule, “Raise your hand before speaking.” So that’s a general class rule. But this is where we can break from that anytime we define for our students what the next 30 minutes looks like or 40 minutes. So when we were talking about defining each kind of period, you can say, “Well, during this time, you may stand up and move around the room or work with a partner or whatever.” But anyway, so it’s important. We have a rule that prohibits talking in the classroom, and then we have to define what that rule means, so we have to define what “no talking” means and looks like. The best way to do that is through detailed modeling. So you may bring a desk or a table up in front of your classroom and you’d sit down and you’re going to pretend to be a student, and you may have other students acting as models also, so you may sit at a table and pretend you’re a table, just like in your classroom, and you would show students how you expect them to behave while you’re giving instruction, and then how you expect them to behave when they’re doing independent work. It’s also important to include what not to do. So you’ll model those exact behaviors that you’re seeing, those exact talking behaviors, whether it’s side-talking or standing up and whispering to someone, or whatever your classroom looks like. Even if it’s chaotic, whatever that chaos looks like exactly, you want the students to be able to see themselves in your modeling and what isn’t okay.
GONZALEZ: Yes. I had a problem with call-outs. I would be giving instructions, or I would be talking about something, and kids would start to say, “Oh, that happened to me,” and they wouldn’t raise their hand, I would be so stupid, because I would just engage in a conversation with them, and then before I knew it, everybody was off. So that kid who started the pop-up conversation, that kid needs to be in my demonstration. Not him, but I need to act like him.
LINSIN: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, and you’re right. This same type of modeling can … you can use it for call-outs or for anything else that’s going on your classroom. If students are pushing each other or kicking the heels of the person in front of them when they’re lining up, anything and everything like that, that’s when you’re going to use your … When you’re observing your class, you may have a little clipboard that you jot down things you want to cover in the future, things that show that maybe you didn’t teach something in as explicit detail as you should have. So yeah. So you would go through a modeling exercise, and then you may … it’s really important that you allow them to practice, so you allow your students to practice what it looks like.
GONZALEZ: Okay, what would that look like?
LINSIN: Well, for something like this, it’s pretty boring. But you actually will say, “I want you to show me. I’m going to look at the clock, and I’m going to give you 60 seconds, and I want you to show me what good listening looks like, and no talking. So let’s pretend I’m standing and giving you a lesson. I want to know what that looks like.” And then you’ll stand and maybe you’ll cross your arms and put your hand under your chin, and you’ll watch them. You know? You’ll stare at them and you’ll walk around the room, and you’ll watch one of them, and you’ll nod your head and say, “Mmhmm, okay, all right, that looks good. Mmhmm. Chin up a little higher!” It’s okay to have fun with it, and I think that’s another thing we should mention, that none of this is a punishment. It’s just good teaching. It’s all good, whether you’re teaching how to find a topic sentence or how you want your students to line up before recess, it’s all teaching. And so it’s okay to have fun with it. It’s okay for them to laugh at some of the things that you say or to see themselves in the behaviors, which they love, by the way, and they think it’s hilarious, especially if you exaggerate it and have some fun with it.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. Okay, so in this demo, do you also sort of show them what happens if they get off track, or is it just about demonstrating what they should be doing at that point?
LINSIN: No, you’re absolutely right. The next step in that is that you’re going to show them, walk them through the exact steps that would happen if they turn and talk to a neighbor, for example. The thing of it is, is this then bleeds into what is more of a general sense of if they break any rules in your classroom. So the thing of it is if your students are talking while you’re talking, or they’re talking during independent work, there are probably a lot of other misbehaviors going on as well. They’re probably not listening very well. They probably don’t follow directions well, and you’re probably putting out quite a few fires. And so you’d want to go over this again, but you always, always, always, in the beginning of the school year, and then again any time you notice things aren’t going too well in this regard, you want to reteach all of your rules. So all of your rules and the exact steps a misbehaving student would take from your initial warning to contacting parents or whatever your consequences look like.
GONZALEZ: Okay. And you and I went over a pretty detailed explanation of what that overall plan, that was Episode 48, which by the way is one of my most-downloaded episodes, the Classroom Mangement Plan. People are definitely hurting in this area.
LINSIN: Yeah. So you would certainly include that. If it’s something that you’ve already gone over in detail before and they fully understand it and behavior is good in every other area, then it’s not something that maybe you would have to cover in as much detail after the modeling portion.
GONZALEZ: So then once you’ve done the demo, then what?
LINSIN: Well, so after you’ve done the demo, and your students have proven they understand, they show you physically that they get it, it’s really important that maybe after saying, “That’s awesome. That’s exactly how you do it. You don’t need to do it any better than that. That’s the way to do it.” You may say, “Stand up and say hello to a friend,” which I like to do a lot, and they get up and move around, tust to kind of get it out of their system, and then do it for real. Then have a lesson ready, a directed lesson ready, to have them prove to you they can do it in practice.
LINSIN: So follow up right away. Because once they do, and they will, Jenn. If we teach it in detail, they’ll be fantastic during that lesson. Now you’ve got them. Now you’re back where you were before and you can’t let go again.
GONZALEZ: Okay, what if, what if, because I’m trying to think of teachers that say they’ve also got very disrespectful students, so I think there’s probably some people listening who are thinking, A, I couldn’t even get them quiet to do the demo in the first place, or B, if I did, they’d be rolling their eyes the whole time, and then once I actually did the real trial, where I’m going to try to do a lesson and see, they would immediately start testing me. To me, this is a relationship problem.
LINSIN: A couple of things. I’m happy to answer anything, and I love being challenged on anything. But this is kind of like asking, “How do I manage my classroom?” I get to those emails, and I think, “Oh my gosh. I have 400-something articles over eight years.”
LINSIN: But anyway, that means they’ve lost control of their class.
LINSIN: And so the problem is deeper than talking.
LINSIN: Interestingly though, the solution is similar. So we’re going to teach, maybe not how not to talk, but we’re going to teach from the very beginning, Here’s How We Enter the Classroom. You mentioned relationships, and you’re absolutely right, because when students are misbehaving, and they’re disrespectful, and they’re talking when you’re talking, there’s an excellent chance that there’s some resentment coming from you. I mean I know there would be from me. None of us are immune to that. Maybe it’s outward, and maybe it’s not. So maybe you are. It’s hard not to raise your voice, it’s hard not to be sarcastic and those kinds of things, so there’s animosity between you and your students, and you’re going to get disrespect. That’s just going to happen. And so we do want to fix that. We want to start letting our classroom management plan take care of all those behaviors, so we can work on building relationships with students.
GONZALEZ: So if a teacher is already a couple of weeks into the year, and this problem now has presented itself … Let’s say they’re in their first year, and they never really did much of a classroom management plan to begin with, would it be worth it to basically burn — especially like with you what you’re talking about, a middle or high school teacher you’ve got teaching in class periods — would it be worth it to just burn a whole school day and go through all of your class periods and do all of this reteaching and not really get into content just for the sake of repairing things for the rest of the year?
LINSIN: Yes. Do it now, yeah. Don’t wait, because it’ll just be a miserable year. I couldn’t imagine teaching like that. I’m selfish. I want to love my experience, and I want my students to love it too, and it goes together.
GONZALEZ: And so any content teaching that’s lost in those days, you will certainly be … I mean the way I feel is if you’re spending so much time already on sort of poor classroom management, you’re already not teaching the content effectively anyway. So the sacrifice or the time you give up to do the reteaching, you’re going to make that up in not losing all of that other time later.
LINSIN: You’ll not only make it up, you’ll have weeks of extra teaching that you wouldn’t have had. You’ll be finished with your curriculum when everyone else is two-thirds through.
LINSIN: Nowadays you can’t do that anymore. Everyone has to stay together. But yeah, you’ll be so far ahead.
GONZALEZ: Is there anything else that we didn’t cover today? I mean I know there’s plenty of things that we could continue to talk about, but just on this one issue of talking, anything else that you sort of want to add?
LINSIN: Yeah, so two things. Of course it’s very important that you recommit yourself to enforcing your classroom management plan, so making sure that you consistently follow it in order to communicate, and you’ll be tested at first, but in order to communicate, yeah, I really do mean it.
LINSIN: Because that was a first thing. They don’t believe you really mean it, because you haven’t shown that you mean it.
LINSIN: Or the teachers before you haven’t shown, but they’re going to know Mrs. Gonzalez means it.
GONZALEZ: Right. And so that’s going to involve having to enforce the consequences on a couple of kids.
LINSIN: Yes. And enforce them immediately. You almost hope during that wonderful lesson, that first wonderful lesson, that one student maybe turns, and so the class can see that you’re holding them accountable. I do want to say, Jenn, I do want to give a strategy you can use if you’re making this transition, this change in culture, if you will, a way to speed up that change in culture, and it’s a strategy that I call the Sign Strategy. And the way it works is that you would model for your students. Again, you would do a detailed modeling lesson, you would model for your students what to do if a neighbor turns to talk to them during these periods.
GONZALEZ: This is good.
LINSIN: And so I like to just teach them a sign. It can be a scissors or peace sign or okay sign or whatever’s culturally acceptable in your classroom or wherever you teach, it can be any old sign. And all they do is just hold the sign up, and the sign means, “I’m really sorry, but I have to listen to the lesson,” or “I’m really sorry, but I have to do my work.” And so this kind of helps that transition, and you can tell them that if they give the sign and that student who sees the sign turns and gets back to work that you will not hold them accountable. That you will not enforce a consequence, because they’re showing responsible behavior, and it’s sort of a transition.
GONZALEZ: So this is a sign to you or to their classmate?
LINSIN: It’s to their classmates, but you’re observing and you’re seeing it happen.
GONZALEZ: Got it.
LINSIN: So you see someone lean over toward a fellow student, and that student holds the sign up. Doesn’t look at them, by the way, they keep looking straight ahead, and they just hold the sign up, and it means, “I love you. I think you’re fantastic. We’re best friends, and I mean no offense, but I’ve got work to do. I’m really sorry.” That’s what the sign means.
GONZALEZ: I would think that would fix so many problems, because when my own kids have come home and said that they’d gotten in trouble for talking. And I’ll say, “Well, what was going on?” And they’ll say, “Well, so-and-so started to talk to me,” and they don’t want to be rude and just ignore them. And so this sort of socially, it gives them a way out.
LINSIN: It does, and it’s polite, and it’s helpful to those students who maybe do understand and they do care now, but they’ve had this habit, they’ve been able to do that for four years, and now they’re in your classroom and you’re asking them not to. And the thing of it is that after awhile, they’ll stop doing it.
LINSIN: Because there’s no reason to turn to my best friend, because he’s never going to talk to me. He always puts up that sign.
LINSIN: And so it just sort of … the strategy just sort of disappears from your classroom, and then you can go right on holding students accountable, per normal. But yeah, as long as you’re clear, you understand the reasons, it’s important that you understand those reasons for why your students are talking, and then you know how to fix it, you define in detail, you model, you practice, you do it for real, you promise that you’re going to follow your plan, and then maybe if you’ve really struggled, go ahead and teach the sign strategy, and you should be able to, easy, within an hour, have your class back on track.
GONZALEZ: Oh, thank you so much. I want to make sure that we give a plug to your website, smartclassroommanagement.com, and that’s the main place where people can find you online, correct?
LINSIN: That’s right, yeah.
GONZALEZ: And you’ve got a couple of books out. “Happy Teacher Habits” is your most recent one, right?
GONZALEZ: Has there been anything else since then?
LINSIN: We had a course. I did my first course in the spring, and that was fun.
GONZALEZ: Oh, no kidding? When you say “did a course,” is it an online course?
LINSIN: It was an online course, yeah, on classroom management. It’s closed now.
LINSIN: But it was open for a short time. It may open again, and then probably have a book coming out in 2019.
LINSIN: But that’s it. Everything’s free on the website.
GONZALEZ: Great. So it’s smartclassroommanagement.com. Michael Linsin, thank you so much again for helping all of these teachers.
LINSIN: Thank you. Love your podcast.
GONZALEZ: Thank you.
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