Quiet down, class.
As a student teacher, my supervising professor would regularly comment that I allowed too much din, that low hum of puberty driven chatter, the bane of countless teachers. My master teacher had a fool-proof plan for eliminating unwanted chatter--though I was reluctant to enforce this plan. He simply doled out sentences. "I will not talk in class." Twenty-five times for first offenses and fifty for a second. Quiet down, class; I can hear you all chuckling at this mostly outdated method.
But today, in week number four of 9th grade English, the same as I student taught four years ago, I am considering this method. If you walked into that classroom four years ago, the silence of the room dominated your experience. Classroom mangament issues remained stories told by my student teaching peers. Now today, my classroom hums along with a gentle din.
I am set on putting an end to it. Not that I need it absolutely quiet; trust me, my normal teaching voice can be heard in the main office, two buildings and a stretch of sidewalk away. But there are students who need a quieter environment. I should give detentions, but that process seems so much more disruptive. "Johnnie, stop talking," I'll say. "I'm not talking," he'll quip. Then we banter back and forth about how when he opens his mouth and words come out, that is considered talking. He'll protest even louder. Or, I could just skip to, "Jill, you have a detention for talking." To which shouts of "you're so unfair, those boys were talking too" will ring out.
And at the end of the day, I'll be frustrated, bang my head against my desk and say, "How do I get them to shut-up??"