Monday, March 17, 2014

Are Your Students Too Busy Talking to Learn?

One of the most frustrating feelings that any teacher can experience is the hopelessness that comes when our students are so busy talking that they don't listen to us or work productively. Unfortunately, having a class that is excessively talkative is one of the most frequent complaints that many teachers--experienced and novice alike-- share. It is disheartening at best to plan a wonderful lesson that no student is interested in.

The problem of the talkative class is also one that is amazingly uniform across all grade levels and subjects. Large classes, small classes, very young students and sophisticated seniors can all be so talkative that little learning can occur. After all, they outnumber us by thirty or so noisy people to one teacher!

Luckily, there are a few easy approaches that can help your students take charge of their own talking patterns and learn to work well with each other and with you. Try some of these to help control the talking in your classroom.


You have a class that talks and talks and talks. They talk indiscriminately to you and to each other. While you certainly don’t want a class that is silent and dull, the excessive talking in this class prevents students from accomplishing everything you have planned for the day’s lesson. You are not just tired of trying to cope with the noise, but even more tired of trying to teach over their constant din.

Your Goals

• To raise student awareness about the harmful effects of excessive talking

• To encourage appropriate talking and discourage inappropriate talking

• To empower students so that they can cope with this issue themselves instead of being nagged by a teacher

Approaches to Take

Spend time observing your students to find the cause of the problem. Are they excited because of the time of day? Bored and restless? Unaware of the effect of their talking? Unsure of how to do their work well? Once you have determined some of the causes for their talking, work to figure out how to turn this into an advantage instead of a class failing.

Be very clear with your students when you discuss this issue. They should know when it is acceptable for them to talk and when they should be working silently or listening carefully. Setting clear limits and communicating those limits reduce your students’ tendencies to test the boundaries of your tolerance.

Be aware that sometimes you may be the cause of the problem. Once your students are settled and working, be careful not to keep talking to the whole class. Work with individuals at that point instead of distracting the entire group.

Take care to pace instruction so that once students finish an assignment they have plenty of other work to do with a minimum of transition time. Students without enough to do will find time to chatter.

Establish signals with your class so that they know when to stop talking. Many teachers find it helpful to enlist students in this process because it promotes student ownership.

If students are excited about an upcoming event, allow them to spend a timed minute or two talking before settling down to work. Clearing the air this way shows students that you are willing to be fair.

Teach students that they must be responsible for their own talking. Use positive peer pressure to your advantage. Chart their successful attempts at managing their excessive talking with a large bar or pie graph and then provide a small tangible reward for those students who are successful. Once students see that they can be successful at managing their own noise levels, they will be likely to continue in a positive trend.

Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid the sound-wave cycle of a loud class time followed by a quiet time followed by a loud time again by being very consistent in how you enforce the rules you establish about when it is acceptable for students to talk. Set clear limits and stick to them instead of appearing the least bit fuzzy on this issue.

Don’t allow students to have a great deal of down time where they don’t have anything to do but chitchat loudly with their classmates.

Don’t forget that it is important to help students focus on an assignment at the start of a lesson and then periodically throughout the class period. Reasonable timed wiggle breaks make it easier for students to not only stay on task but to talk appropriately with their classmates.

Don’t expect students to be quiet all class long. Build in a variety of activities so that their interactions can be positive ones.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Julia Thompson to Partner with Share My Lesson as a Presenter
Natalie Dean, Share My Lesson



Julia Thompson to Partner with Share My Lesson as a Presenter

at the First-Ever Ideas and Innovations Virtual Conference for Teachers and Parents

Julia Thompson has been named a presenter during the Teaching & Learning: Ideas and Innovations virtual conference, taking place on the afternoons and evenings of March 11-13. The three-day series of workshops is being sponsored by Share My Lesson, the nation's fastest-growing online site for free teaching resources.
Thompson's presentation, Creating Self-Disciplined Students, will run from 9-10 pm on the evening of Thursday, March 13. Join in the conversation!

Ideas and Innovations is an online symposium of professional learning featuring over two dozen free workshops by Share My Lesson’s content partners, educational leaders, and expert teachers. Attendees can expect engaging webinars on topics ranging from arts education and civics to the Common Core. With two-dozen webinars to choose from, there's something for every educator and parent.

“‘A self-disciplined learner is one who is willing to do the right thing at the right time.’ Join me as I present ideas designed to help you encourage your students to become the self-disciplined learners they are capable of becoming.” ~Julia Thompson, author of First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide

“Share My Lesson is committed to reclaiming the promise of public education by supporting educators and parents, giving them the resources and professional learning they need to be successful,” said Scott Noon, general manager of Share My Lesson. “The free conference is a way to support effective practice, help teachers to be aware of our content partners, and provide teachers with opportunities to network and collaborate.”

Participation in the conference is exclusive to registered Share My Lesson users. Registration for the site and conference workshops is entirely free, however. For those seeking professional learning credits, registration for each workshop should be done individually to track attendance. For more information, visit



Share My Lesson was developed by the American Federation of Teachers, a union of over 1.5 million professionals, and TSL Education, creators of TES Connect, the largest network of teachers in the world. Share My Lesson is an award-winning online professional development community where educators can come together to share their greatest teaching resources and collaborate on best practices at no cost. Share My Lesson features a significant resource bank aligned to the Common Core State Standards, including advice and guidance to aid in their successful implementation. Share My Lesson is the 2014 Codie Award winner for Best Crowd Sourced Solution. For more, visit

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fifty Don'ts to Save Your Career

1.     Don’t allow small problems to become large ones.

2.     Don’t refuse to honor school rules even if you don’t agree with them.

3.     Don’t try to teach without being prepared.

4.     Don’t touch a student in a way that could be misconstrued.

5.     Don’t model a lack of integrity. Follow the rules for photocopying material and showing movies.

6.      Don’t use food as a reward.

7.     Don’t allow yourself to be alone with a student.

8.     Don’t curse or use nonstandard English around your students.

9.     Don’t neglect to return phone calls within twenty-four hours.

10.  Don’t leave your students unattended even briefly.

11.  Don’t overlook serious student problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, neglect, or weapons.

12.  Don’t give students free time where they have nothing to do.

13.  Don’t be a boring teacher. Mix it up!

14.  Don’t be sarcastic. You are the grownup in the room.

15.  Don’t allow students to make fun of each other or to otherwise engage in horseplay.

16.  Don’t give up on your students who struggle.

17.  Don’t agree “not to tell” when a student tells you confidential information. You may be legally required to act on it.

18.  Don’t take suicide threats lightly.

19.  Don’t allow students to leave campus with an unauthorized adult.

20.  Don’t ignore the signs that your students are restless and bored with a lesson.

21.  Don’t allow students to sleep because they are “not bothering anyone.”

22.  Don’t ignore your own stress levels.

23.  Don’t break the laws regarding confidentiality and privacy of student information.

24.  Don’t try to be a pal to your students. They already have friends.

25.  Don’t neglect to spend enough time learning school rules and procedures.

26.  Don’t act in anger.

27.  Don’t fail to allow for differences in learning styles.

28.  Don’t underestimate the importance of motivation before, during, and after a lesson.

29.  Don’t call in sick when you are not sick.

30.  Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

31.  Don’t assign work as punishment.

32.  Don’t assume students are mastering the material. Monitor carefully.

33.  Don’t lower your expectations when students find the work difficult. Help them instead.

34.  Don’t be inconsistent in implementing your behavior policies.

35.  Don’t hide your mistakes from a mentor or administrator. Ask for help when you are in error.

36.  Don’t confront a misbehaving student in front of other students.

37.  Don’t get in a win/lose situation with a student, student’s parent, or a colleague.

38.  Don’t take the unpleasant aspects of student misbehavior personally.

39.  Don’t punish the entire group for the misbehavior of one or two students.

40.  Don’t hold grudges when your students misbehave.

41.  Don’t forget to teach classroom rules and procedures as often as it takes.

42.  Don’t be too tentative, too permissive.

43.  Don’t give too many negative directions.

44.  Don’t overreact to a simple situation.

45.  Don’t neglect to set boundaries for your students.

46.  Don’t avoid proofreading your own work.

47.  Don’t call parents without being prepared and professional.

48.  Don’t begin teaching without having their attention.

49.  Don’t forget that young people don’t always use good judgment.

50.  Don’t forget to look beyond the behaviors you can observe to determine the underlying causes.