Kids have questions, a lot of questions. Although they have recess and lunch, young children often forget to use their time wisely. If a teacher isn’t careful, this can lead to frequent interruptions. Interruptions prevent teachers from finishing lessons and small group instruction. Furthermore, it can be frustrating. Yet, there are ways to nip the unnecessary disruptions in the bud. Here are a few tips from an experienced classroom teacher on how to minimize classroom interruptions in the elementary school setting.
While I don’t like kids going to the bathroom during class, I also realize that everyone has emergencies and unpredictable bodily functions. I never wanted to be that teacher whose student had an accident because they couldn’t hold it. On the other hand, it can be quite disruptive to have kids asking to go to the bathroom, or sharpen their pencil, every 10 minutes. Teaching your students sign language is a great way to minimize these disruptions. Signs to teach your students might include I need to: “go to the bathroom” “get a drink of water” and “sharpen my pencil.” I have a question or a comment are other signs to teach your students. Rick Morris offers printable sign language posters at newmanagement.com.
Having predictable routines can help minimize interruptions too. If students know they can get water or sharpen their pencil during each transitional period, it might prevent them from asking during the middle of a story. I used to have a seventh inning stretch time an hour after lunch so kids could get their afternoon wiggles out. I played “Take me Out to the Ball Game” and the kids looked forward to this each afternoon.
Appropriate Independent Work
I always taught math, writing and language lessons. However, I mostly did small group instruction. Sometimes, I was lucky to have a classroom aide but most of the day it was just me. Thus, I always worked on the new skill in small group with the students while the other students took part in enrichment or review work. When I introduced a new math game, we always learned the game in small groups so I could explain the rules. By explaining assignments thoroughly and giving appropriate independent work, I was able to reduce the amount of interruptions during my small group time. Students knew to bring questions to the group or ask another student. Then, when they were done with their work, they could choose a partner to play a game or read a book.
By giving my students scheduled breaks throughout the day, I prevented disruptions. Sometimes, I would play background music and allow the kids to have a talking break. At the end of the song, they had to return to their seats. I also used an overhead projection timer. Kids knew they had five minutes to sharpen pencils and get water. We also had a few minutes during rotation time for kids to move around and get supplies ready. I found this time gave my students a break and also helped reduce interruptions and behavior problems.
As a teacher, I felt these classroom management techniques helped my day go more smoothly.
More from Melissa:
Using Children’s Books to Teach Descriptive Writing
How Involved Should Schools Be in the War on Obesity?
Seven Ways to Improve Your Students’ Writing Skills