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Why do some kids need to talk so much?!
A great question...but more importantly, what can a teacher do about it? First, let's address the "why."
"Why" is revealed by what your students talk about. Listen and you'll find that...
Some students process their problem-solving verbally. They talk about what you are teaching, puzzling it through. "Thinking out loud," for them, is a critical part of learning and they'll always have to do it to a certain extent. They need moderation and control of their impulse to talk, especially when it interrupts others' ability to learn.
Some students want attention. They may blurt out answers to get it, but just as often they are talking in class about non-school items to anyone who will listen. They can learn to control themselves once they understand they will receive positive reinforcement from the teacher when they are not disrupting the class.
Some students have simply never learned from their family environment that constant chattering is not a desirable social trait. In short, they've been given attention from mom and dad no matter what they've said - silly, serious or otherwise - and they have no reason to think that every other human isn't eager to hear their every thought. They need to learn the social skill of listening (to someone besides themselves!).
Some kids are trying to assert themselves socially. This takes some one-on-one work to teach them social skills that don't interfere with learning. Some students don't have that natural on/off switch; they need to learn and practice the right times for chatting. I've turned this into lessons for the whole class when needed!
Being a disruptive behavior, talking in class may tie into your larger classroom management or discipline plan. But there are differences between physical misbehavior and talking. We no longer teach in 1950's classrooms where children are expected to be silent unless give explicit permission to speak; we want classroom dialogue, but we want it to be focused, appropriate to the topic and non-disruptive.
So...what to do?
Just thinking out loud!
Just as with delivery of curriculum, we must individualize. If we truly understand the reasons for talking, as outlined above, we can address the specific issues driving it. No matter what we have decided the child needs, though, the single most-important piece of advise for facilitating their transformation is: Pull them closer.
It is so tempting to remove a distraction: send them to the farthest desk, or the hallway, or another classroom. But if our goal is to change behavior for the benefit of the child, then we must pull them closer into our sphere of influence.
As I outline on this page regarding significant discipline issues and classroom arrangements, that means their desk goes by our desk, their spot on the floor is by our feet, and if we are moving around the room on a particularly chatty day, they might need to trail along with their work on a clipboard.
This can be exhausting. But I can also say that there is no faster way to get a handle on talking in class than to give it your constant attention for a short period of time, rather than dealing with it half-heartedly (or avoiding it) for months.
What are your classroom behavior management methods to deal with talking in class?
I'd love to hear them...please leave a comment at the bottom of this page.
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