There are several ways you can use your teaching skills to reduce and/or eliminate classroom disruptions. One such way is through your sense of humor and ability to create a fun learning environment. It is true; classroom problems can be reduced by effective teachers.
Humor and Fun Reduce Classroom Distractions
As you know, people who are having fun and feeling happy are less likely to disrupt lessons, so for this reason alone, humor and fun should be an integral part of your teaching.
Humor does not only make people have fun and feel good. It has other significant effects on students’ learning. Humor plays a major role in making students more receptive to learning. It reduces stress and makes them more relaxed. It can be easy to forget this when there is so much pressure to meet deadlines and targets, but students learn best when they’re enjoying the activities and find the information useful.
Five Tips to Successfully Implement Humor Into Your Lessons
1. Lighten Up and Learn to Laugh at Yourself
Mistakes and accidents are bound to happen from time-to-time during lessons and, sometimes, they can be hilarious. If you have a mix-up during your lesson your students find hilarious, you can either try to regain control of your class by barking orders at them to calm down. Or you can choose to take part in the laughter for a few minutes. Don’t take yourself too seriously; sometimes it’s good to lighten up.
By sprinkling in a few well-rehearsed stories or one-liners, you can add a bit of fun to some otherwise dull lectures.
3. Let the Kids Provide the Humor
Utilize your class clown by giving them an appropriate outlet to use their humor as an excellent speaking and listening activity. If a student has a tremendous sense of humor, which is appropriate, it should be encouraged. Do this without losing control of your class or creating a disorderly atmosphere.
4. Use the Type of Humor Students Enjoy and Understand
It is almost a guarantee your sense of humor will differ from your students’ sense of humor. To make your students laugh, you need to be on key with what sort of things make them laugh. Watch the TV programs your students’ find funny to figure out what type of humor they enjoy. Get to know your students’ interests and the kinds of things they like to watch on TV. Knowing your students’ type of humor will make it much easier to make them laugh.
5. Have Occasional Dedicated Comedy Sessions
Once in a while, it can be a good idea to put together a lesson based solely on having fun. Such lessons are valuable for building bonds and encouraging cooperation between group members and will do your reputation as a teacher good.
If you decide to implement humor, remember that a lesson learned with laughter is an experience remembered. Looking at ways to make your lessons more fun or humorous will benefit your whole class.
High Expectations Improve Student Learning
Another way to reduce classroom disruptions is through your expectations for your students.
It is important to keep high expectations in your classroom. Holding your students to high expectations will also raise your students’ expectations of themselves. If they see you hold them to a high standard they will begin to believe they can achieve to a high standard, thus increasing students’ self-esteem and confidence.
Along the same lines, you should not expect your students will misbehave. Expect they will behave appropriately. This should be reinforced when you speak to your students so they know what your expectations.
You might say, “During this group activity, I expect you to raise your hands and wait to be called upon before you answer aloud. I expect you to respect each other’s opinions and listen to what each person has to say without interrupting.”
Nip Problem Behaviors in the Bud
When classroom disturbances do occur, it is crucial you deal with them instantly and with as little interruption as possible. You don’t want learning to be interrupted for all of your students because of the actions of a few.
If students are having a discussion among themselves, and you are trying to teach a lesson or have a classroom discussion, ask one of the disruptive students a question to encourage them to get back on track. This will encourage the rest of the students to perk up and pay more attention as they won’t want to be caught off guard with a question they aren’t prepared to answer.
If you have to interrupt the flow of the lesson you are teaching to handle a disruptive student, then this distracts students who genuinely want to learn. Additionally, this wastes time, since it takes a few moments for you to get all the students, and yourself, back on track with the lesson you are trying to deliver.
As well, there may be times when you have been instructing a class only to notice your students start to drift away from the lesson. If you have had this type of experience, you may know the method of asking a student a question that requires an answer is effective in this situation.
Directly addressing an individual with a question which demands an answer will instantly bring back the attention of your students. For instance, you can say… “Do you understand Peter?” or “Mary, do you see how this works?” or ask a specific question about the content of the lesson. This method is not a trick to puzzle the student but to simply bring their attention back to the class.
Once you use this technique in your classroom, you will find that the rest of the students will pay attention also, because they don’t want to be caught off guard.
By establishing high expectations for your students and making classroom learning the main focus of your lessons, you will be better able to deal with small disturbances and keep your students on track.
Don’t Lose Your Temper
When dealing with an impossible class full of unruly students, you may have an overwhelming urge to yell at them. Shouting and ranting pretty much guarantees more conflict with your students. Kids absolutely hate teachers whose only strategy for dealing with challenging students is punishment and shouting. Losing your temper and shouting at your students is not a good form of classroom management.
When you lose your temper and shout at your students it has the effect of encouraging the child to shout back. It will also make them angry, making them less likely to pay attention and more likely to retaliate or switch off.
Perhaps most importantly, if you lose your temper, you are essentially showing the children that you lack control. You will be inducing an unsettled and tense atmosphere into the classroom and some children may enjoy watching the spectacle of you getting angry. You clearly don’t want to create this situation in your classroom, so it is important to stay calm.
When you shout and lose your temper, you are essentially giving them what they want: the emotional reaction and attention that they crave. Some kids desperately want our attention and don’t care how they get it. The fact you’re yelling and shouting is actually quite an emotional response and is why it can be so rewarding for them.
Save the emotional outbursts for when you praise a student. Get excited, yell and shout if you want to but do it at the right time – when you’re pleased with them and want them to repeat whatever they’ve done in the future.
Give Clear Instructions to Avoid Classroom Disruptions
When giving your students instructions, you want them to follow your instructions and stay on task. To achieve this, you need to instruct them in specific ways while being respectful of them. Patience and consistency are important in reducing classroom disruptions.
Students need very structured and clear boundaries and guidelines for them to clearly know what is expected of them. As soon as instructions become laid-back, chaos will soon follow.
Five Steps to Keep Students Focused and Minimize Disruptions
1. State What You Want Calmly and Clearly
The first step is to state what you want them to do calmly and clearly. If they are misbehaving, clearly state what they are doing wrong and how they can fix it. Leave no room for misunderstanding, and also explain to them why they should do what you are asking.
Instead of focusing on the negative, tell them what they need to be doing and explain why they should be: i.e. finishing work in class will eliminate the need to complete it at home.
How you respond to classroom disruptions makes a huge difference in how the students respond to you.
If they don’t listen to you after step one, move on to step two, which is:
2. Explain the Consequences of What will Happen if They Continue to Misbehave
Remember to remain calm when speaking; tell them matter-of-factly that if they continue this behavior they will lose some of their break time or they’ll need to clean up their mess, etc. Make the consequence specific to their behavior.
Once you’ve communicated the consequences to the student about creating classroom disruptions, give them a time limit to fix their behavior and then move off to give them time to make the right choice.
Since you’ve explained to them exactly what they are doing wrong, exactly what they must change to fix it, and exactly what will happen if they don’t, you are being completely fair and have also given them a clear-cut choice to do the right thing. And, by walking away you’ve taken the pressure off of them in front of their friends, making it easier for them to do the right thing.
3. Acknowledge Their Effort
If and when they do the right thing, remember to acknowledge it. This will reinforce that they have made the right decision, gives them some positive attention, and will encourage them to do it in the future.
4. Follow Through
If, however, they choose to carry on, this is the time to follow through on your promised consequence. Communicate to the student what’s happened and that their continued defiance is the sole reason for the consequence.
Continue to be calm, showing you remain in control which will show any other rambunctious students that you follow through on your promises and you are fair.
5. Repeat the Procedure with Tougher Consequences if Needed
If the student continues misbehaving after the consequence, repeat the procedure with tougher repercussions in hopes that consistency will eliminate classroom disruptions by the student.
It is important to start off with small consequences so you can increase them when necessary. By starting off small and moving to larger and larger consequences, the students should view this as fair, as they’ve done more to warrant a larger consequence the second time around.
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