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Better Solutions to Classroom Interruptions

Better Solutions to Classroom Interruptions

Pat Hensley | Successful Teaching

Q: “What do you do with kids that continually interrupt you in the classroom?”

At the beginning of the year, I state my expectations. One of them (a big one) is Respect Others. By interrupting, we are not respecting others because we are saying that we are more important than them. Sometimes it helps the students when they see it in this way.

Another thing to think about is to try to understand why this student is continually interrupting. Are they doing it for attention or do they really need help? If it is for attention, sometimes it is just a bad habit that they have gotten into. I work very hard on ignoring the student who constantly interrupts (by saying only once that I will not recognize rude people who disrespect others) and make sure that when I pay attention to someone, I say that one of the reasons is because they waited so patiently to be recognized. Many times this takes care of the problem but it make take a week or two of patient and consistent behavior on my part.

Another reason is that sometimes students are forgotten. Have you ever had a student raise their hand and then you tell them you will be with them after you help someone else? Then when you go to help them, they have forgotten their question or you have forgotten who had their hand raised.

I found an effective way to deal with this and I was truly amazed to see it work. I cut red and green foam blocks into small squares. Then I glued them together so that red is on one side and the green is on the other. On the red side, I wrote the word, “Help!” and on the green side, I wrote the word, “OK” on it. All of the students got one when they entered the class and had to put it on the corner of their desk. Everyone started with the green showing while I introduced the lesson. When they began their work, they learned to turn it over to the red if they needed help. With a quick glance, I could move around the room helping those who needed help. This also kept me from interrupting someone’s train of thought if they didn’t need help. If someone interrupted me for help, I would tell them they needed to turn their block to red and wait for me or I wouldn’t help them. They learned quickly and it was effective all year long.

Do you have any effective strategies that worked for you? Please share!

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