No teacher wants to be labelled as “that one down the hall who always yells and screams”. Parents dislike you before they even meet you, children don’t want to be in your class, and those who pass on to the next grade breathe a huge sigh of relief. Even your colleagues don’t want to occupy neighboring classrooms, and those who must, always teach with their doors shut.
The best teachers control their class without having to raise their voices. Here are some of the strategies they use to accomplish this desirable goal.
The first day
Children must respect their teacher. Gain that respect from Day One by informing your class that you, as their teacher, are in charge of the classroom. Assure them that you will work very hard to see that each one has a successful year. Remind them that their job is to listen carefully, and to complete assignments to the best of their ability.
Establish rules and procedures
Post your rules and procedures in a prominent place in the classroom. Review them every morning for the first few weeks of school. Uncertainty and confusion always raise the noise level in the classroom.
Instead of yelling, the teacher should speak in a soft voice, so that the children must listen carefully to hear her. A quiet classroom is necessary for focusing, thinking and learning.
If the classroom gets noisy, have a prearranged signal that the children know means “Quiet please.” Some teachers use a desk bell, others may flick the lights off and on. Whatever signal you decide on, begin early and be consistent all year.
If you happen to work in a Catholic school, or one affiliated with another religion, standing up and announcing in a firm voice, “Let us pray…” will bring an instant response of silence as the students prepare to join in.
Children who are writing are quiet. Print the above heading, then begin writing on the blackboard. It could be a note for the next lesson, a message to parents, or an important announcement. As the students settle down to copy, the room will become quiet.
Do as I do
Children are great little imitators. When the teacher maintains an attitude of calmness and serenity, her students will reflect her behavior. Agitation and disorganization on the teacher’s part will elicit similar behavior from the children.
When students are unsure of what is expected, they will be confused and consult one another, often in loud voices. When assigning a task, explain in detail what you want done and conclude your directions with a firm, “Begin now.”
Students with nothing to do become restless and start to socialize, distracting others. Always have extra activities for those who finish seatwork early. It may be a puzzle, an art activity, or a bonus assignment, but keep them busy!
No teacher sets out to be “that one down the hall who always yells and screams.” It makes a stressful atmosphere in which to work and you will go home exhausted at the end of each day. In addition, you are indirectly teaching the children that it’s normal to yell to get what you want, and your academic lessons will be less effective than they would if presented in a calm and focused manner in a quiet environment.
Both you and your students will benefit if you adopt some or all of the above strategies to control your class without raising your voice.