Thursday, March 7, 2013


image used from flickr

It's nearing Spring Break...which means it's getting closer to the end of the year...which means my fifth graders are preparing to become sixth graders/middle schoolers. Lately we've been struggling as a class to put learning time ahead of socializing time. I know it's something so many teachers struggle with and this time of year seems to be prime time for it.

Teachers have a variety of different strategies they try to get kids to stop talking and focus on learning. From taking away recess minutes to erasing letters of a random word on the board to having them put visual reminders on their desks to who knows what else.

My biggest struggle has been how to get the students to intrinsically monitor themselves instead of me being the external reminder voice that feels like a broken record at the end of the day.

I'm going to be experimenting with something over the next few weeks in an attempt to turn it over to them. It's something I've talked over with some colleagues, and I'm going to give it a whirl. Students at this age are very aware of what appropriate behaviors look like in the classroom, but sometimes just become oblivious to what they're doing in the moment. I hope to come back here to share how it went, and maybe it can be something you can try! So, come back in a few weeks and I'll post about it then.

How do you help your students internalize the importance of the work they need to do? I know socializing is necessary. I know it's important, but how do you balance it with the learning priorities in your classroom? I'd love to hear some things you have tried. What has worked? What has flopped?



  1. Mrs. Goerend,

    I am a college student at the University of South Alabama in elementary education. Thank you so much for this post! I can not wait to read about the results from your experiment. I have so many resources, blogs, and websites bookmarked to help me with my future in teaching, but advice like this will be most valuable in my first few years. I can remember how difficult it was to concentrate as a younger student when half of the class was socializing. Eventually the entire class was socializing during lecture and no one could concentrate. I am very excited to read your follow-up post! Thanks again!!

  2. Mrs. Goerend,
    This post is one I can truly sympathize with, I am a student now with a part time job as an after school counselor and getting the children to focus instead of paying attention seems almost like a full time job! It was nice to hear that I am not the only one who has trouble helping to realize there is a time to be social and a time to focus on the work. I really hope that everything works out and that you and your colleagues can find a solution! Thanks for the great post!
    Whitley Byrd
    University of South Alabama EDM 310

  3. Mrs. Goerend,
    This post really hits home for me. While reading it I remember going through some of the same things while in elementary school. You wouldn't believe some of the ridiculous things teachers come up with to make their class "act better," or listen to them. I remember one teacher who turned the lights off and on over and over just to attempt to make us listen to her. Yes, you are right. At the end of the day most teachers do sound like broken records and the class really won't listen then. I am so interested to know how this turned out. I'm sure you came up with something great. It may even be something I can use in my future classroom.

    Amber McQueen, EDM310 at the University of South Alabama.

  4. Mrs. Goerend,
    I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I like how you plan to make your students responsible for their actions. Fifth graders are old enough to understand what is expected of them in the classroom. It was hard for me to focus when I was a younger student when everyone around me was socializing. I enjoyed reading your success in your "Turning it over to them - Success in the making!" post. I hope that you continue to find new ways to make learning more successful in your classroom.

  5. Hi, I am a student in edm310 at the University of South Alabama. I like the fact that you are trying to engage your students to see what you could do about their behavior. I think that it is really important to bring to their attention the problems that their talking and lack of focus is doing to them and to the rest of the class. I really look forward to your next post.

  6. Hey! My name is Cameron Hall and I am a student at USA in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. I love the fact that you are involving your students in the decisions about their behavior in the classroom. I understand sounding like a broken record by the end of the day can be useless and become annoying to both you and the students. I dont think that cutting their socializing time is right because it could only provoke them to talk more during instruction, but maybe reiterating that their socializing time is just that and being strict on talking and playing during instruction would show them that you mean business. Cant wait for your next post on the results!