When They Won’t Stop Talking

This week’s video, inspired by YouTube commenter Kelli, is all about those kids who won’t stop talking when it’s time to get to work. Warning: It’s been a long week and this video is a rambling mess. Still, it’s honest and I’m too tired to re-film. Here’s what happens when I go off-script:

Click here for info about Quarter Trios, a way to use games to build classroom community:

Click here for a set of the vocabulary bell-ringer slides mentioned in the video:

Teach on, everyone!

18 thoughts on “When They Won’t Stop Talking

  1. Bless you for posting this. I swear I thought there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t get them to STOP TALKING…really was feeling like a failure…

  2. testmunnyblog says:

    Seriously, thank you for this. Was feeling like a failure on this topic…glad I am not alone

  3. Nope, Cathy and TestMunnyBlog. It’s the same thing everywhere, I suspect. We are far from alone in facing this frustration.

  4. Megan Jones-Schiebel says:

    Yes! I agree with all you have said! I have eighth graders, and I often use a timer when I’m having kids work in small groups. I just project the timer onto my screen so everyone can see it. That way, they know that when the time is up, their work time in class is also over. I also know that addressing chatty kids individually rather than calling them out in front of the class is way more productive than calling them out. I am not a saint; there is usually a time or two during the school year when I do end up calling someone out. If/when that happens, it’s so unusual that the entire class takes note.

  5. I’m right there with you, Megan. Love that timer idea, too. 🙂

  6. I just want to thank you for being so transparent and helpful. I switched from 7th grade to 9th grade this year and feel like a first year teacher again rather than a 9th year teacher. Teenagers are much different than pre-teens and I have really been struggling with them this year! This was helpful and comforting knowing that it. is. normal.

    Thank you!

  7. Totally normal, Anna. Haven’t you noticed the bags under my eyes? That’s 20 years of high school at work – on my face. You’re going to be fine. 😉

  8. Victoria H. says:

    Laura, I feel like you must be in my brain somewhere because everything you’ve been posting recently has been exactly what I needed to see/hear! I just moved schools for my 2nd year of teaching. My old school had block and this school is hourly, so I now have twice as many classes and twice as many kids as I did before. It’s also a really small school (junior high and high school are on the same campus), so they all know everyone and I’m the newbie in town, so that combined with being/looking very young means I’m very much being tested by some of my kids.

    This was so helpful to me to see that I really am already doing most of what you’ve suggested. The fact that these things don’t always work and there’s no real solution that’ll work every time makes me feel better when it seems like I’m failing at controlling my class.

    My question might be just as unanswerable as Kelly’s, but I was wondering what you do if you have a class that’s a bit overloaded with those kinds of kids. I have a class this year that has a much higher number of kids with 504/SPED accommodations, and many of these kids seem like they’re actively trying to disrupt my class with their talking or shouting out. I’ve talked with a couple privately, and I’ve talked with other teachers, and it seems like this is a long-standing problem for these kids. If it were one kid, I think I’d be able to handle it. I find often ignoring the kids who are just shouting random things out for attention is a method that works in addition to trying to bring them into the fold like you suggested. But when there’s 3, 4, 5 of them? It becomes impossible to continue teaching or bring them all into the fold when they essentially gang up on me. I just recently went the stern teacher route: I explained my expectations and the consequences of if they continue with their behavior, and I will follow through on those consequences if/when necessary. But I’m not sure I even think that will work much. This class has been stressing me out a lot right in the middle of my day, and I hate that I feel that way. I don’t dislike the kids, but I’m really getting frustrated by their behavior, and my poor good kids are really suffering for the whole situation as well. I wasn’t sure if you had any suggestions on how to handle this kind of situation, especially because most of the kids I’m having problems with also don’t care much about school or grades in general. I’m finding it hard to get them interested in things even though I’m trying so hard.

    I’m sorry! This is long and rambling, but I’ve just been so distressed about it!

  9. Oh, Victoria, I feel your pain. I once had 11 – ELEVEN! – kids with IEPs placed in one of my regular English 9 sections. That was the year I threw up the surrender flag, went to my favorite vice principal, and requested back-up support in the form of a special ed aide who worked with me in just that one class period for the rest of the year. Having another adult in there who knew the kids and could give them attention/re-explain directions/take a walk with one when a melt-down was imminent was absolutely necessary. Is this something you can request? It’s not fair – and might even be against your district’s rules – to have that many high-needs students in one class without adequate support. If you ask and the answer’s no, then it’s reasonable to suggest a few of the kids are given a schedule change so as to spread out the load. We MUST ask for what we need.

  10. Kendall Childs says:

    Hi Laura . . . A wise AP once said to our staff, “Don’t take anything the kids say or do personally, it’s not about you.” This applies to kids talking in your class. It has nothing to do with us. Yes, it must be dealt with as a behavior issue; it should not be seen as an attack on you as a teacher. Have a good week.

  11. Wise words to remember, Kendall. Thanks for this! 🙂

  12. Helene Burns says:

    I don’t have a class website. Not sure how I should post their points. Can you clarify again, how and why they would create an Instagram Account/Photobucket?

  13. Helene Burns says:

    Sorry. It’s me again. What do you have on your first form?

  14. Sorry, Helene, for any confusion. There’s no need at all to use tech to make Quarter Trios work for you. A low-tech approach will be just fine and you can keep your tally handwritten on the whiteboard by your desk, if you prefer. For the Instagram/PhotoBucket element, that was just a single challenge that you can read more about here: https://laurarandazzo.com/2015/11/12/instagram-challenge/ Again, if this is outside your comfort zone, just stick with the low-tech options. A few list of Trio challenges is here: https://laurarandazzo.com/2015/08/10/new-year-game-plan/ Have fun with it! 🙂

  15. Helene Burns says:

    Thanks so much for the clarification. Do you have a worksheet for instructions for the students to join instagram? Also, How does you classroom look like before and after when students get into their trio’s?

  16. Hi Helene,
    Sorry, no worksheet for kids to follow. I suspect you’ll find that your students are well-versed in setting up an IG account and the few who don’t know will be happily helped by the pro-level kids. 🙂 As for room arrangement, you can see my normal layout here:
    During Quarter Trio game play, the row are all broken apart as desks are slid around to make small three-top tables. When the gaming is done, the kids just slide everything back in place, taking only a minute or so to make this happen.

  17. Girl, you are my teaching soul sister. I love the honesty and thank you for saying there’s no magic bullet. Knowing your students and what makes them tick is essential.
    Nice work!

  18. Hey, sis! So glad you found the blog. You know what they say about great minds… 😀

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