We’ve all been there. You have just started talking to the class, and a little voice chimes in. Every class has one – the one child (or more) who always has a story to share, something to talk about. It feels like endless interruptions. And the worst part is that no matter how much you let them talk, they still have more to say.
It is natural for children to talk. However, if there are students in your classroom who talk when they’re supposed to be listening or working, academic progress will suffer. Talking without permission wastes time, interrupts the learning of others, and leads to more serious disruptive behavior. As annoying and frustrating as it is, having an incredibly verbal child in your class is inevitable and something you must learn to deal with.
You are going to have to be a facilitator and help a child realize when they are interrupting and how it is not appropriate. Some children really don’t recognize that they are interrupting, even if it seems glaringly obvious to you. Make sure to do this in a nonchalant manner when you aren’t extremely frustrated because you may end up dispiriting one of your best students.
Actually, highly verbal children can be some of your best helpers! I remember one year that I had a student who talked constantly whenever I was debriefing the class from one activity to another. One day out of exasperation, I asked the child to come on up and take over for me. That moment was a game changer, for both me and my student. Though she did not have the exact summary I had intended to give, she was confident, told the other students to listen to her, and she made the class super fun and exciting.
To my shock, the student turned out to be more effective in her new role and responsibility. Delegate classroom duties to such students and save yourself the headache. You can make these students the class monitors who are supposed to keep everyone from talking. Since being a class monitor is a matter of respect, at least that way, your talkative students will learn about the value of keeping quiet.
I realized how important it is to notice these children’s efforts. Go out of your way to thank them for remembering to raise their hand. Tell them that you could tell they really wanted to talk, and that they did a great job waiting until their friend finished talking. Let them know you are there to help them talk when it’s the best time, not to prevent them from talking. Re-inforce this by giving them responsibilities.
It may also help to give such students extra class work. Some students tend to be a lot more talkative in class, because they are done with their work and are now bored. In such cases, you can always go up to the question and ask them to read on further or work on something else while you teach the others in class. That way, they too are occupied in learning and you can teach the other students especially in other groups without being interrupted.
Finally, changing the seats of students is an old tested method to keep the class less noisy. This suggestion is not to change seats but rearrange a few seats in the shape of any letter, and then perhaps a few seats in a mirror image of the letter, and even some seats in between the two. This will give you accessibility to all students.
The writer is a Language Consultant