You need to see me…now?

You need to see me…now?

You need to talk to me NOW?

It never fails…you broke a sweat getting your 18 kindergartners to the carpet and you have 36 eyes trained on you (this is magical in itself because it only took two songs this time).  You’re hovering over the eager children ready to burst into a miraculous lesson that is going to transform their lives…just then, someone creeps in the door frame and asks, “Mrs. Houston, can I see you for a minute?”(Yes, at this point a wide variety of profanities pop into your head – we’ll choose to leave them out for purposes of the post)

Here are the most popular responses:
1. You yell, “NO!  Are you crazy?  Do you see what I have going here?”  
2. Or, you leave your little cluster of eager brains for whatever emergency is awaiting you at the door and upon return to the carpet you discover that your class has turned into a pack of wild animals (when I say wild…I mean SAVAGE!).   

Assuming you chose option two (you wanted to keep you job) and you’re faced with an rowdy group, here is something that has helped:
Start with reasonable, clear expectations.
QUIET-  Do you really need a group of young children to be silent for a few minutes…just sitting there?  Their brain cells will be shutting down slowly but surely.  You will need them to restart their engines when you return. 

They are going to talk…that’s what kindergartners do. 
ACTIVE-  Give them something to talk about!  The “something” is very easy to come up with on the fly.  For example, they can talk about their favorite part of the story you just read. Keep their brains moving so they don’t fall asleep or start trouble.
STILL-  You also need to tell them who they can talk to.  They should be able to just turn and talk to their neighbor.  If you need help with this step, check out my upcoming Turn and Talk post.  They need to stay sitting for safety reasons and they need to keep their hands to themselves. 
Now that you have the picture in your mind and your expectations clear, explain your expectations to your kids.  Actually, do more than explain your expectations…chart them and model them.  Show your kids what your expectations look like and what they sound like.  Last, practice, practice, practice!  Stop partway through your lesson and pretend someone is at the door…just like a fire drill.  After you explain, model, and practice, don’t forget to PRAISE!  

PRAISE- This might be the most important step!  Instead of getting upset at the children who are not doing what they are supposed to be doing, single out and praise the ones who are.  Chances are, the others will follow.

Happy Teaching!

Lion image courtesy of James Barker, Boss courtesy of Imagerymajestic, and young children found in stockimages all found on

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