September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Classroom Management at Any Grade: Why You Should Not Shush the Kids

Posted: Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

by Heather Marshall

I ran across an article this week, and it really hit me that I am doing some things wrong in terms of classroom management! I am not modeling to my kids how I expect their behavior to be in various situations. As a result of my not setting clear boundaries for volume during different activities, I often find myself shushing them. After reading the article summarized below, I realized I have to change what I do to make class run more smoothly, and keep me from having to raise my voice to be heard. I wanted to pass the essence of this article along to CSTA members because I am hoping it will help others as it has helped me. This will work for any age level of kids. I tried it after I read the article at the end of the year, and it worked immediately with my high schoolers!

The basis of the article is that shushing the students is not good. If you have to shush them, you as a teacher, have not modeled what the volume level should be. Shushing means your classroom management has gotten out of your control. We as teachers often expect our kids to just know when they are supposed to use indoor or outdoor voices, and when they can or should be talking, and when it is not appropriate to talk. But if we do not model it for them, and teach them what we expect, we will end up shushing them. I know I do!

So here are the basic steps to consider.  DECIDE what you want the volume to be. MODEL that behavior and PRACTICE it until they understand. OBSERVE their behavior for mastery. STOP the activity if they exceed the volume decided upon. REMIND them the level of volume expected, and ENFORCE consequences on any who refuse to stay within that range. Finally, STANDARDIZE volume levels.  For example, during a lab I expect much greater volume than during notes. So determine a few standards for your classroom and teach the students what each level means. Then you can stop shushing the kids!

Source: Why You Shouldn’t Shush Your Students; And What To Do Instead by Michael Linsin

Heather Marshall teaches CP geology at Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill and is CSTA’s high school director.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

One Response

  1. OK, so I teach the third grade, small agricultural town on the central coast, and the problem with excessive, non academic talk varies from year to year. Although I value focused discussion, I am troubled by what seems to me to be a sub-culture that embraces conversation and this quickly escalates when unchecked (regardless of modeling, this behavior is extremely persistent). The only modeling that consistently succeeds in getting the point across is no talking at all, listening and thinking is better. Our students are very low academically, according to CST scores, and many need to practice the use of English vocabulary, but their socializing perspective is so dominant they quickly get off target with discussions. I use much stronger than “shushing” to refocus them on a regular basis and it does wear me out. Any thoughts?

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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.