Classroom Management – Putting Into Action Non-Verbal Signals

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Have you ever counted how many times in a day you are asked to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, sharpened my pencil or I have a question. How many times you verbally tell students to be quiet. Stop being frazzled and wasting valuable teaching time. Teach your students to use non-verbal signals as part of your classroom management plan.

Classroom management has many components to it. One of the easiest to use is non-verbal signals. In order for non-verbal signals to work as part of classroom management this must be setup and expectations explained and modeled as to what is expected of students. At the beginning of the school year teach your students a system of non-verbal signals and how to use them. This will eliminate many behavior problems. Using non- verbal signals is one of the basic strategies to use. By using non-verbal signal you can:

o eliminate unnecessary classroom noise and disruption to your daily lessons

o stop interruption during testing taking

o have a classroom of students who are more focused and finish more work

o save your voice and complete more lessons plans

Where do I find non-verbal signal to teach and use in class? Perhaps you are using some non-verbal signals but don’t realize that you are.

o ask last year teacher to see if they used any with the class

o ask veteran teachers

o behavior coach at your school

o research the Internet

I have used five standard non-verbal signals for many years. These are the ones that I use.

o Permission for the bathroom they raise their hand and cross their fingers

o Needs a drink of water they raise their hand and show middle three fingers

o Pencil needs sharpening they hold up their pencil, remember to have pencils in a contain already sharpened for them to swap for. No physical sharpening

o They have a question simple raising of hand

o To get their attention I say out loud five, hold up my hand high and silently start to count on my fingers. The students in return do the same thing so I know when I have their full attention.

The following example is a non-verbal signal to stay on task. I draw on the board a tic tac toe symbol with an extra line going horizontal. There are three horizontal lines, every time they are noisy, talking or off task they lose one third of the line going across. When all the lines going horizontal are gone they have lost that activity for the day. I don’t have to remind them all I do is erase that section of the line. I use this for all type of behavior that I want to change or make them aware of. Sometimes it is used for lunch recess, free dress day or going to special classes.

There are many different types of non-verbal signals you can use. You have to choose those that work for you and be consistent when you use them. Consistency is the key.



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