Home Questions Answered Is getting control of a class DIFFERENT than managing individuals?

I made a similar thread a few minutes ago, but I think this title conveys what I’m asking better.

Example I used: I’m trying to talk. 3 students are listening, 11 are talking. Is the correct way to proceed issuing consequences to each individual? For example, I sometimes just rattle off:

“John, that’s a strike – please don’t talk while I’m talking. Kyle, that’s a strike – please don’t talk while I’m talking, Sally, that’s 5 minutes of detention tomorrow, please keep your hands to yourself, Randy that’s a phone call home – please don’t touch other people’s belongings, etc.”
I do this for an entire minute, making most students annoyed and ultimately only gaining a few minutes of silence. Obviously I begin with positive reinforcement, and though that works wonders for most of my classes, I don’t notice an impact with the particular group I’m thinking of.
The alternative I could see is addressing the group as a whole, but saying “you guys” and “most of you” rarely seems effective. However, my method isn’t really either.

Will what I’m doing eventually pay off (ex. the individuals will realize there are consequences for their individual behavior and the group as a whole will eventually behave?


Is managing the group as a whole different than managing individuals? If so, how can I better manage a group as a whole?


Here is how you start: You need to make an announcement to the class that things are going to change and everyone is expected to work together to make the class a better environment. Let the whole class take responsibility for their behavior. Acknowledge there is too much talking and that has to stop. What affects one person will now affect everyone. You have to work with them as a group as a whole and then deal with you biggest problem students individually.

I think one thing to consider is that students are always going to find something to talk about so give them something to talk about. They are at an age where they can be broken into groups and research a subject together and you are just making sure they are all actually working.

Becoming the Teacher

If you can make a lesson where they have to be the teacher even better. I always have a lesson like that in my class and I explain before my first ‘teacher’ goes how rude it is to interrupt and to think about how much time they each invested in getting prepared for their own lesson. Students do respond to this, are usually very quiet and I often don’t have to give warnings other than the preliminary one before we begin. Afterwards I praise them for how well they listened to all the student teachers and now that I see that they are all capable of doing so I expect the same courtesy to be given to me because now they know how much I invest in teaching them each lesson. (This is especially effective if I have a group that is problematic)

One Conversation

When students talk over me I simply “remind” them that we are having one conversation right now focused on what I am saying. There are days I feel like I have to say that several times but it’s true. Once I say it I wait until the room is quiet. Once quiet if it takes time I remind them the time wasted means less time for the fun projects we have planned because we have to get the basic ideas in I’m teaching.

Discussion-Based Lectures

I also try to have my lectures discussion based where they answer questions and I give positive feedback on their right answers.

For instance this week we were learning about different reason people make artwork. Rather than defining each category I wrote the categories on the board and asked the students to tell me what they were in their own words.

When someone’s answer isn’t quite right I try to help them frame it so it comes out as a correct answer or explain why it doesn’t quite fit but fits better for a different one of the categories.

Once we had this “lecture” We looked at images of artwork and I had them try to figure out each ones function based on what they understood. The longer it took to get an answer the more information about the artwork I gave them to help get to the right answer. I find discussion based lectures work really well for talkative groups plus you have immediate feedback on how well they understand the material.

In terms of positive reinforcement what have you tried?

My biggest incentive is to have time set aside for either: a game or free time to work on art projects or homework. If the class gets three strikes in a day they lose this time because it’s taken up by my lecture that they aren’t listening to. I don’t speak out loud or point out students. I remind my class it’s up to them to work together to achieve their special privileges. I just turn around and make a mark on the board. This is very effective for me. (Usually offered once a week)

Another positive reinforcement that is easy to implement is an extra credit or bonus question. I give them each class. But if students are disruptive and I can’t get them to settle down then they lose their chance for extra credit for the day.

It’s the first thing we do after attendance and questions. I ask a question from their homework/reading they did the previous night to reinforce an important idea. It becomes a good starting place for a discussion the next day too.

Hands-on Learning Techniques

I also split my class up into different categories: lecture, discussion-based lecture, group activities, individual activities, short films and free time. I try to use at least three different categories in each class so there is always hands on learning available for what we do. Keeping them on their toes and engaged makes a big difference.

If I’m about to turn on a short film or dim the lights to show them slides I look around the room and if someone looks like they are going to try to lay down I tell them specifically they can’t fall asleep.

One last method

If a class is out of hand and there is too much talking going on I have on occasion told that class that due to their talking I’m taking a 5 minute break. They can talk all they want, I’m going to sit down but when I stand back up 5 minutes their conversations are to be over and class will resume. This has always been effective for two reasons. One they talk and get it out of their system and two I get to sit down and calm down instead of getting more frustrated. I clear my head, drink some coffee and am ready to tackle my frustrating bunch when I stand back up. Not once has the room not fallen silent after I’ve done this when I stand up because they know they’ve done something wrong.

question submitted and answered through reddit.com/r/Teachers by TeacherAffairs

Leave a Reply