Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Take a Seat"...Calming Down the Classroom

Do you ever have those days where the noise and activity level in your classroom just seems a bit higher than normal?  As teachers we are always looking for new strategies for calming down the chaos noise level when it gets too loud.  Now that the holiday season is approaching the littles just get so excited that it seems to happen more often.

I was at the Refresh Conference a couple years ago.  It's a conference for foster and adoptive families.  You bring your kids.  People love on your kids for the weekend with fun games, crafts, and activities while you and/or your partner get "Refreshed".  Hence the name of the conference.  One of the speakers was an adoptive mom named Lisa Qualls.  You can check out her blog here.  I was really moved by what she had to say at the conference and I started reading her blog frequently.  One of her blog posts was about how she visited the home where one of her children spends time and witnessed a strategy called "Take a seat".  You can read her post here.  I instantly knew that this would work in the classroom with some tweaking. 

Implementing Take a Seat in the Classroom

When implementing a new strategy it's important to teach it and then rehearse it with your students.  Spend some time reviewing classroom expectations.  Explain that they are going to learn a new strategy for calming down when rules aren't being followed or expectations aren't being met.  Tell them it's called "Take a seat".  Have all your students stand up.  Then quietly tell them to "take a seat".  They will look at you like you're nuts.  They'll probably giggle.  Mine did.  Have fun with it!  Keep practicing.  Stand up, take a seat, stand up, and take a seat.  Once they've gotten their giggles out get their attention back and explain that when we take a seat we need to sit criss cross applesauce with our hands in our laps and our voices off.  Practice that with the students.  Have a competition between boys and girls or 2 other groups in your classroom for who can do it the quietest 3 times in a row.  Once you declare a winner gather everyone back and create a T chart.  Do you use GLAD strategies in your classroom?  If not, this is a great strategy.  Label the top "Taking a Seat".  Label one side of the T with "looks like with a picture of an eye".  Label the other side "Sounds like" with a picture of an ear.  Solicit students' input for what taking a seat looks like and sounds like.  You can get a copy here.

Once the chart is complete hang it somewhere in the room where students can easily access it.  Voila!  Your students are ready to start "taking a seat".

The first time you need to use the strategy turn the lights out and calmly say "take a seat".  Thank the students who do immediately.  Give gentle reminders to students who aren't and encourage them to look around for support on what is expected of them.  At this point you can give verbal directions to redirect the class or you can bring them to your whole group area.  I do this and we go over the "take a seat" T chart and then we make another T chart titled "A Learning Classroom".  I make the same headings of looks like and sounds like.  Students then get a chance to describe what a learning classroom looks like and sounds like and are hopefully getting ready to change their behavior choices when they go back to work to make the classroom a learning classroom once again.  You can get a copy here.

I hope this helps.  Send me pictures of your classroom taking a seat and your anchor charts if you try this strategy.  I'd love to feature them on my blog.

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