Scenario 4 - Gaining attention in a noisy class

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Resources to support Charlie Taylor’s Improving Teacher Training for Behaviour
Behaviour Scenarios
Scenario 4: Gaining attention in a noisy class
This Scenario has been developed for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) to enable trainees to
demonstrate knowledge, skills and understanding of behaviour management
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Behaviour2Learn has developed 17 Scenarios focusing on the 8 areas highlighted in the
Teaching Agency's document Improving teacher training for behaviour. These are:
Personal Style
School Systems
Classroom Management
More Challenging Behaviour
Theoretical Knowledge
Improving teacher training for behaviour has been developed by Charlie Taylor, the
Government’s expert adviser on behaviour, to complement the new Teachers’
Standards that all teachers have to demonstrate from September 2012.
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Scenario 4
Gaining attention in a noisy class
The class are working on an exercise and becoming increasingly noisy.
The quality of the noise suggests that they are not sufficiently focused
on their work . You want them to move on the next task.
How do you make the transition?
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Key Learning Outcomes
• Development of your personal style for managing behaviour .
• Practice in ways to gain the attention of a class.
• Understanding how and where to stand and move in order to be an
authoritative presence in the classroom.
• Understanding of the need to keep a focus on learning - the main
purpose of the lesson.
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What do you do?
Consider these responses and choose the best one(s):
1. Gain attention using an established signal and ask, “Who has completed
the task?”
2. Write the next task up on the board.
3. Pick on the noisiest individual and tell them to stand up and tell the class
what he/she has done.
4. Move purposefully to stand where everyone can see you. Make eye
contact with some pupils to show that you are about to speak.
5. Go round to each group in turn to give them the next task.
6. Clap your hands and say firmly, “OK everyone, pens down, stop and look
this way, please.”
7. Raise your voice over the noise and shout, “Who is ready for the next
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What might be the best choice?
4. Move purposefully to stand where everyone can see you. Make eye
contact with some pupils to show that you are about to speak.
1. Gain attention using an established signal and ask, “Who has completed
the task?”
In setting standards with the class, you should have agreed a ground rule
about gaining attention (e.g. by holding your hand up and pupils copying
you). Reinforcing it with praise helps to speed up the process and establish it
more firmly.
However, it is not enough to gain quiet. You need to seize the moment
quickly and calmly and identify progress before rounding off the task and
moving on.
5. Clap your hands and say firmly, “Right, pens down, stop and look this
way, please.”
Alternatively, a signal noise (other than shouting) can be used to attract
attention and to ensure that pupils are all listening before you begin to
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How might you prevent a recurrence?
Plan for transitions as part of your lesson plan, anticipating possible
problems and working out how to avoid them.
Practise routines with the class, making this fun if you can. Perhaps use
tools (such as a musical instrument) to help you.
Asking pupils to do something, e.g. turn to face you or put their pens
down, will gain their attention more effectively than simply calling for
Remind the class of the routine for changing tasks and say that it will be
their learning behaviour objective next time.
Do not forget to do this – make a note in your planner if this helps or,
better still, use reward charts or points for each time they change task
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Underlying Principles
• Changing the activity may improve behaviour and engagement - a new start
can provide fresh interest and challenge.
• Teachers need to find ways to establish quiet without shouting or nagging
the class, both of which are likely to be ineffective.
• Getting pupils to change what they are doing (“Pens down please and look
this way”) is often more effective than simply calling for silence (“ Quiet
everyone please”).
• Skill and practice are needed to judge, then seize, the moment to achieve a
change in work activity.
• Setting up and reinforcing procedures and routines is time well spent, but is
not an end in itself: the measure of success is the learning which takes place.
• Smooth transitions from one task to another maintain the learning
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Rights and Responsibilities
• It is the teacher’s responsibility to establish a clear framework for
classroom discipline to manage learners’ behaviour constructively and
promote their self-control and independence.
• Pupils have the right to be in a situation where they can learn without
interruption from others, they also have the responsibility to behave in an
acceptable way.
• It is, however, the teacher’s responsibility to create the conditions in
which learning can take place.
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Activities to try
You will no doubt have observed or tried a number of approaches to
resolve this type of situation. List them and evaluate the effectiveness (in
terms of maintaining the learning momentum) of each in your
experience. How far was their effectiveness dependent on the particular
situation in which they were employed?
Choose, from your list, two strategies you have not tried before which
appeal to you and try them out in the classroom, preferably with a
colleague to observe their effectiveness. Arrange to discuss the
outcomes: “What went well?” and “Even better if…”
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Research shows that the chance of disruptive behaviour is greatest at
transition points in a lesson.
It is therefore important to establish and practise systems for gaining pupils’
attention and making smooth transitions from one activity to another.
Getting pupils to change what they are doing is often more effective than
simply calling for silence.
The purpose is to maintain the pace of the lesson. You should not have to
waste time waiting to gain everyone’s attention.
Pupils work at different rates and it is not necessary always to change the
activity for the whole class at the same time. You can experiment with ways
of moving groups or individuals on to new activities when they are ready.
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