So it's almost the end of the school year and with only a few weeks to go it's likely that your students are starting to become a little restless. It's also likely that perhaps your patience isn't as great as it was in September, am I right? And we all know that the combination of increasingly excited children plus increasingly exhausted teachers doesn't always have a great ending!
You may find yourself having to wait longer for quiet, repeating your expectations more frequently or imposing more sanctions. And as the balance of rewards and sanctions tips in the wrong direction you become more frustrated.
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But as music teachers we have that extra challenge of noise level. If we need students to stop what they are doing, not only do we have to project over the happy working chatter of 30 students, but also compete with whatever instruments or headphones they happen to be using at the time. And after 14 weeks of this, you may find your voice is getting tired.
So here are 5 quick and simple ways to achieve quiet without having to count to 5 at the top of your voice.
This is a popular game for primary students but also works well with older students (don't forget they are still children and still love a game!!). When you shout 'Graveyard' everyone falls to the ground and achieves the stillness of a graveyard. This can be adapted to putting heads on table or just freezing where you are. You could even run a competition for best Graveyard table or group and keep a little tally over the next few weeks, with a Christmas prize at the end.
As these are ideas to save your voice, instead of shouting 'Graveyard' why not adapt a timer so that you have a slide with the word 'Graveyard' and some kind of alarm going off? Then all you have to do is display the slide and you have a silent graveyard.
Students who loved games such as 'Floor is Lava' and 'Andy's Coming' last year will love this one.
This is a good game to settle a noisy class at the beginning of a lesson. As students line up, tell them you will be starting with this game so they need to stand behind their chairs. Quickly pick the most silent student yourself. This student then picks the next most silent student and sits down. Students must pick within 3 seconds or lose their go and continue to stand. This carries on around the room until the whole class is sat down in silence.
Set the game up so that students know there is a consequence to being in the last 5, such as having to tidy up everyone's work space for them, or, if you have a very tricky class it could be a 5 minute lunch/break detention.
Students don't like to be the last to be picked (remembering those school PE lessons when teams were picked........) so will want to be silent in order to be picked and get sat down.
It's a music lesson, so use music! Have a handy cowbell or tambourine on your desk and train your classes that when you beat out a rhythm, they stop and clap it back.
On these dark winter days, the light switch is your friend. Instead of an audio cue for silence, use the light switch to indicate that you want attention. Simply flash it on and off and then wait for quiet.
(Please be careful with any medical issues here such as epilepsy!)
Why do all the work yourself? Nominate a student teacher for each lesson. Make them up a little lanyard to show everyone who the student teacher is today and display a list of duties that they are responsible for in the lesson. Depending on the student, this could include...
We often underestimate our students and like to organise everything for them so that we know it will be done 'just so', but giving away responsibility will help you by reducing your workload during the lesson and will give the student an enormous sense of achievement and importance.
I hope these ideas help you in your teaching. Why not pick a different one to try with different classes, so you can see which techniques work well for you and your students?
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