Have you ever wondered how to get students to stop talking too much and after trying all your normal tricks, nothing seems to work? It can certainly get frustrating as a teacher when your students won’t stop talking. I have been there! But we need to remember that all behavior is communication and the same goes for too much chatting. When kids won’t stop talking, they are saying that they need more time to talk in their day. I know that a classroom can’t function if they are talking all day long, so how can we help give our students what they need, while also teaching them the expectations of listening and working quietly too? I’ve got 4 tips for you on how to get students to stop talking too much!
Give students time to talk
When students won’t stop talking, they are telling you that they need more time to talk. Understanding that they can’t just talk all day, when are times that you can add in more opportunities for talking? When asking questions to the class, instead of calling on individuals to share, have students turn and talk so that everyone gets a chance to talk. I’ve had classes where instead of doing movement breaks, we did more chatting breaks. This gave students the chance to talk to anyone in the class about anything they wanted, and they needed that freedom.
I was also mindful during certain work times that I would let children talk while they work. This led to lots of discussions on how to monitor that they were still getting work done while talking or the difference between free chatting and talking about the learning. I love starting writing with the writing warm-up too, because they started the lesson getting a chance to talk to someone else first. I continued this trend with math and reading by starting the lessons with a chance to talk about a question or prompt on the screen.
When thinking about how to get students to stop talking, there are ways the teacher can change the classroom to support quiet, calm work. I love having piano music on in the background to provide more of a calming influence over the classroom. If my class was really struggling one day, I might also lower my lights to calm the energy down. The other thing to remember is that children match your energy. If you are calling out over everyone to be quiet, they will raise their voices too. If you are very quiet and get close to the children that need the reminder to lower their voices, then the class will start to get quieter.
Teach listening and voice volumes
Students who are constantly talking too much might need to learn the importance of listening to others. They might need to learn that listening helps us learn, stay safe, and show others we care. You can learn more about how I teach listening here.
The other thing to try teaching your students is voice volumes. There are many different appropriate voice levels throughout the day. For example, recess and gym might need loud voices because they are outside or in big open spaces. Emergencies definitely call for yelling to get someone’s attention. Sometimes we can talk with people at our tables, but we don’t want everyone in the class or classroom next to us to hear that conversation. These are voice volumes. There are lots of different ways to categorize the volumes but here’s how it works in my classroom:
- Voice volume 0: No talking (this is used for rest time and sometimes during reading and writing)
- Voice volume 1: whispering (this is used for most reading and writing times)
- Voice volume 2: Quiet table talk (this is used for most other times of the day. It’s talking to people nearby, not talking so that the whole class or nearby classrooms can hear. This one takes the most practice, because young children don’t always understand how loud their voice can travel.)
- Voice volume 3: Loud and proud (this is used when you are sharing something with the whole class. You need speak so that everyone in the class can hear you.)
- Voice volume 4: this is for outside. (It’s ok to talk very loud outside, but really yelling or screaming would make adults think there is an emergency)
Sometimes, children need logical consequences to help reinforce the rules of the classroom. If you have done all of the above and the talking continues, or one or two students in particular continue talking, try a logical consequence. A logical consequence for talking would be, “Your talking is taking away the learning from the group. You need to sit at your desk until you’re ready to be quiet on the rug,” or “Take a minute in the cozy corner to calm down until you’re ready to be quiet and learn,” or “You are distracting your table. They are trying to work and you are talking too much. Their faces look frustrated. You can work at my teacher table for the rest of writing today. Hopefully, tomorrow can be better.”
If your whole class needs to work on listening, despite multiple lessons and reminders and trying all of the above, maybe try for a whole class reward system just for being quiet. I wouldn’t do the whole day, I would start with one time of day that they really need help with. For example, my class one year really needed help with lunch time. So we made a chart together with our goals for lunch and they worked toward a reward. It laid out to the class what was expected and they were motivated by the reward.
When wondering how to get students to stop talking, it can feel extremely frustrating and can definitely get in the way of learning. But, there are things that we, as teachers, can do to support our students in getting what they need while still having a classroom full of learning. Which of these strategies are you excited to try first?