Your most important goal when redirecting students who may be off task is to quickly and quietly help them get back on task without missing even a moment of instruction. The difficulty lies in trying to be as unobtrusive as possible while still stopping the misbehavior. Fortunately, there are many different ways to redirect students without disrupting instruction. Here are just a few of the techniques you can use to help your students stay on track during class.
· Use sticky notes to write reminders and put them on the desks of students who are off task.
· Set a timer and give everyone a two-minute break.
· Change the pace of the assignment.
· Ask students if they would like help from a classmate.
· Use your “teacher look” to remind students to keep working.
· Call home if several attempts to redirect are not successful.
· Remind students of their long and short-term goals.
· Ask students to restate the directions.
· Ask students to estimate how long it will take to finish the assignment.
· Count 1, 2, 3 and wait for everyone to pay attention to your directions.
· Ask students who are struggling with an assignment if they need help.
· Move to stand near the students who are off task.
· Have students stand, stretch, and then return to work.
· Put your hand on the desk of a student whose attention seems to be wandering.
· Discreetly remove distractions.
· Ask students who are off task to sit near you.
· Pleasantly remind students of the behavior you would like to see.
· Sometimes the problem is not off task behavior, but noise. You can also establish signals such as these with your students to let them know that they need to moderate their noise level:
o Flick the lights
o Fan them so that they “chill out”
o Tell them to use a six-inch voice
o Ring a bell
o Wave your hands over your head
o Snap your fingers until students snap back
o Blow a whistle
o Play calming classical music
o Raise your hand until they raise theirs
o Clap your hands until they clap with you
o Clap twice until they clap three times
o Stand near a noisy group
o Give them a thumbs up when they are quiet
o Give them a thumbs down when they are noisy
o Shush the nearest group and have them pass it on
o Place your finger over your lips and have them do the same
o Hold up your hand in a “V” for volume sign
It’s also helpful to remember that alpha commands tend to be more effective than beta commands when redirecting students. An alpha command is one that is simple and direct while pointing the student in a positive direction. For example, an effective alpha command for students who are lollygagging in the hallway would be, “It’s time for you to go to your seat.” A less effective beta command would be, “Why are you guys still in the hallway?” The effectiveness of an alpha command is that it does not just stop misbehavior, but instead focuses on a desired positive behavior.