Teacher Tip Tuesday: Quiet.

I don't know about your school, but spring has SPRUNG in my students these days.  They are feeling the warmth and excitement of the upcoming spring break.  They are louder and sweatier and starting to lose a little of their common sense.   Good kids are slowing crossing to the dark side and a lot of teachers begin considering what grown-up life must be like outside of the classroom walls.

Here's my tip to all of my school friends battling the insanity: 

Whenever possible, invite quiet into your classroom.  

Not solitary confinement-type quiet--but reflective, purposeful, and meaningful pockets of quiet time in your classroom.  Your students need time to process the information you are throwing at them--and they cannot do that properly if you never give them time to think about your lesson.  They aren't used to silence or the lack of a gadget in their hands to occupy the 2.4 seconds of downtime.  They don't always need your guided questions.  They don't always need another worksheet.  They don't always need another passage, another computer game, or another time-filler.

Sometimes they just need to stop and work through the information.

Their bodies and brains also need time during the day to come down from the high-energy frenzy happening in your classrooms.  They don't need to operate full-throttle.  They don't need constant interruptions or chaos.  They need recovery time.  Think about how your kids act as soon as they come in from the playground.  Most kids need at least 5-10 minutes to get the adrenaline and excitement out of their systems and return to a state of rest.  Instead of screaming at them to listen and get quiet and threaten punishments that will last until the end of the year--why not give them something calm to work on independently?  Encourage them to read or write or even put their heads down.  You aren't wasting time--you are giving them recovery time.  Athletes in training must find time to rest--your students are in training and their minds and bodies need rest as well.

What can you do today to make your classroom quiet?  

How can you slow the pace of the day, and yet still accomplish all of your goals?   

How can you encourage calm moments? 

Have you tried changing the mood of your room recently?  Sometimes it only takes minimal changes such as lowering the lights, playing quiet music, and enforcing silence/reflective times. Maybe you have a white noise machine or a water fountain?  There are plenty of scenic images that can be used as screen savers on your class laptops or Smartboards.

Other times you may want to improve the physical atmosphere of your classroom.  Are there spaces that could use some organization?  Is there a way you could introduce pleasant smells--perhaps open a window or use a neutral-scented air freshener?  Do you have plants or aquariums?

What about you?  What are you personally doing to bring a level of quiet to the room?  Are you cool, calm, and collected or are you running on all cylinders all day, every day, all year and flying around your classroom (and up and down the halls) with a half-crazed look on your face?  Are you managing your time well or are you constantly rushing students to the next activity?

Slow.       Down. 

Your classroom should not always feel like an emergency situation.  You shouldn't be cramming the students with information or reminding them over and over and over and over about upcoming tests and grades and assignments.  You shouldn't be running behind the minute you step into the building. 

Give them (and yourself) time to breathe.  

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