What to do When Your Class Won’t Stop Talking
Every class has a talker. But what happens when you have a completely chatty class where the noise level seems to always be climbing? How can you best facilitate supporting students to pay attention and learn in your classroom?
First and Foremost
Set up a classroom management plan. At the beginning of the year or when starting as a teaching student, discuss with the class your expectations of students, with straightforward positive and negative consequences. Your plan should include things like:
- No one talks while the teacher is talking.
- Students must raise their hand and wait to be called on by the teacher during classroom discussions. (You could use a bean bag or other item to denote who has the opportunity to talk while the rest of the students have the responsibility to listen.)
- No one talks when it is another’s turn to talk. If a child interrupts someone, consistently respond with a statement like, “David is talking right now, it is his turn to talk.
- Designate quiet classroom time for individual work by posting a visual sign on the board like a forefinger pressed to lips.
- Designate open talking times with a different sign like a mouse to remind students it is okay to talk quietly during work time in small groups, while preparing for lunch or recess, or during class participation activities.
- Discuss how a good friend is quiet, so everyone can hear instructions and other students’ ideas when it is their turn to talk to the class.
- For young students, read, discuss, and analyze picture books about individuals who excessively talk. Part of your analysis could include role-playing with puppets.
“Lacey Walker, Non-Stop Talker” by Christianne C. Jones
“My Mouth is a Volcano” by Julia Cook
“Interrupting Chicken” by David Ezra Stein
“Busted by Breakfast” by Tom Watson
“Stop, Fox” by Lori Haskins Houran
Second, Hone in on Individual Talkative Students
Often a chatty class has a few ring leaders. Talking individually with, and seeking to understand the reason behind each of these children’s excessive talking will benefit the whole class. When a child won’t stop talking, they may be:
- Seeking attention – negative attention is better than no attention.
- Bored - most non-stop talkers are very bright. They may need advanced individual work.
- Need movement – some students can’t sit still for long periods.
- Learning appropriate social skills, especially if this is the first time they are in a classroom setting.
- Sitting next to a talkative friend.
For Talkative Students:
- Be a facilitator – help the child realize when they are interrupting.
- When talking to a child individually, ask open-ended questions to help her/him understand the issues for the class with excessive talking. Let her/him help determine solutions. “How might your talking out of turn cause problems for your friends in the class? What can you do to concentrate and learn more?”
- Arrange a non-verbal signal to let the child know it is time to stop talking and to listen.
- Have the child hold his/her thought until it is his/her turn to talk. If the child fears forgetting what the child wants to say, allow him/her a small pad and paper to draw or write down the thought so it is not forgotten.
- Talk with the child one-on-one before the beginning of class each day. Set a timer for one minute and let them tell you anything they want. Stay quiet and listen to them.
- Enlist a talkative child’s help with props, stories, organizational assignments, or leading a section of the class.
- Avoid making talking a bad thing. Part of healthy development is feeling comfortable expressing ourselves. The problem is not the talking, but the timing.
While many of these suggestions work well for young children, school teachers must deal with a student talking regardless if they teach elementary school, middle school, or high school. However, the key to effectively manage students talking at each grade level remains the same. As a teacher, you must consistently enforce set expectations for classroom behavior management while caring about meeting individual students’ needs.
Article by Miss Jae
Stein Stacey, “How to Handle an Overly Talkative Kid.” Today’s Parents. 2017. https://www.todaysparent.com/kids/school-age/how-to-handle-an-overly-talkative-kid/
“Classroom Management Strategies for Talkative Students.” Kindergarten Connection. https://thekindergartenconnection.com/classroom-management-strategies-talkative-students/
Garcia, Nina. “How to Get Your Child to Stop Talking in Class so Much.” Sleeping Should be Easy. 2020. https://sleepingshouldbeeasy.com/talking-in-class/
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