Ways to Get Back on Track When Your Class Is Talking Over You

Solutions to try.
  1. Get your students’ attention. If you have already established an attention-getting signal (raising a fist, ringing a bell, holding up a prop), now is a great time to use it. If you don’t have a signal, create one, share it with your class, and practice, practice, practice.
  1. Give clear directions. Once you have everyone’s attention, clearly communicate what you expect from your students moving forward. For example, you could say something like, “When I give directions, you are quiet and listening, so you know what to do.”
  1. Wait until everyone is ready to move on—even if it takes a while. It can be tempting to simply talk louder than your students, especially with the clock ticking. However, it’s important to communicate to your students that your lesson is important. Waiting patiently for everyone’s attention will help you communicate this urgency. (You can also communicate powerfully with your body language.)
  1. Practice makes perfect. If you’ve had continued issues with your students talking over you, try practicing the aforementioned steps: 1. get their attention; 2. reset the class using clear directions; and 3. wait until everyone is ready to continue. Practice doing the procedure correctly with your class. You might also practice doing these steps incorrectly, and have your students propose solutions. It doesn’t have to be a boring or tedious procedure!

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