Top tips for curbing classroom chatter

Jane Wood-Chambers

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Classroom chatter has to be the bane of any teacher’s life.

You plan your lessons, set up for them, prepare within an inch of your life and then when it comes to teaching, there appears to be a constant murmuring from the audience, and it is not about the content!

How irritating, embarrassing and stressful especially when the ‘chatting’ is taking place during an observed exposition by the senior leadership team.

It is important, however, to remember that speaking and listening is a crucial part of the curriculum and outlined in the programmes of study for English throughout the Key Stages. From the Early Years Foundation Stage to Key Stage 4, with the opportunities for talk, discussions and debate are key integral to achieving across all areas of the curriculum.

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Is this classroom chatter really that damaging to the teaching and learning that is taking place and what can be done to manage it and funnel it into the correct and more manageable forum?

The first thing to do is to reflect and think about the following reasons why the ‘chatting’ may be taking place.

1. Have the pupils had an opportunity to catch up after; the weekend, lunchtime, or on first seeing their peers?

  • When I first see colleagues at work after a period away or an event I would like to discuss and dissect I find it hard not to talk at inappropriate moments. How many of us have seen someone at a conference, inset meeting or continual professional development and had a quick chat as the opening speaker is introducing the event? We mouth a ‘sorry’ and slip back into our seat, but as adults, we are able to do that and also know the social norms for apologising. Pupils are not there yet with that aspect of maturity and their drive to chat can overtake.

  • Solution – give them 5 mins ‘catch up time’ and manage it well explaining the rationale and then stick to the end time by counting down from 10 and then clapping, banging a drum or showing a stop clock on the interactive whiteboard.

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About our Community Expert


Jane Wood-Chambers
Editorial Advisory Board Lead

Over 27 years of educational experiences in a number of settings. Developed a clear vision and ethos for inclusion which puts the child at the centre and a clear understanding of how to support, engage and nurture the individual.

Ability to train all staff through effective and reflective continual professional development in behavioural management techniques that begin, establish and maintain change in all.

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