New Classroom Rule: Don’t Talk To Me Classroom Management by Joel Wagner - August 30, 2008July 1, 201015 If you have ever been in a typical band or orchestra room at the beginning or end of class, you know how utterly chaotic it can get. Kids throwing music into their folders, quickly rushing to take off reeds, shoving horns into cases, and running out the door to get to the next class. Then one inevitably comes running back in because he forgot to take off his neckstrap or loosen his bow or whatever. Then the next class comes in. Excited to see each other, talking, rushing to take their instruments out, soak their reeds, prepare music, get set up, and the list goes on. Every day, someone feels it is necessary to tell me they forgot their instrument or that they need to go to the restroom, or that their mom called the guy and he’s going to bring “it” tomorrow. As if remember what in the world they are talking about when I am trying to shift gears from the last class. Ask three before me I established a policy during summer band that students should ask three other people a question before it comes to me. That didn’t last very long. Partly because I don’t stress it enough, but also because three other people probably don’t know if they can go to the restroom, or get a drink, or call their mom, or turn in their papers, or whatever. I’m going to continue that, but I felt like I had to add something else. The problem I like kids. That’s why I teach. I am concerned about their lives and about how they impact what goes on in my classroom. When a student comes up to me and tells me something or asks me something before class begins, I simply don’t care. I am busy doing my job.I tend to give short, somewhat rude answers in these situations. “Mister, I forgot my instrument.” “Great! Be in your seat before the bell rings.” “I really have to go to the restroom!” “Wow, I can tell that. Why didn’t you go in your last class?” Or I simply ignore them, which makes them ask again and again and again, until I turn to them and tell them I heard them the first time, and keep going on with whatever I’m doing. This obviously isn’t good for student rapport-building. Don’t ask me a question in the first five minutes of class Seems simple enough. “But class hasn’t started yet!” Don’t ask me a question until class has been under way for five minutes Clearer. But a bit verbose. “I need to go to the bathroom!” “Don’t ask me…” “That’s not a question!” Don’t talk to me until class has started Concise. Simple. Clear. It’s not that I’m mean, it’s just that we have a lot of work to do in class today (just like every other day), and I don’t need their interruptions. Most questions will be answered throughout the class. What about you? What new rule/policy/or behavioral expectation have you set up in your class this year? Joel WagnerJoel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.