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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