Handling the Extroverts

The banter between you and these attention-seeking extroverts will encourage the others to loosen up. Now teaching begins to be fun. The danger comes in letting it go too far. After the rather non-stimulating social climate that was necessary during the first few days, you’ll welcome some good-natured exchanges. Even if it gets a bit too boisterous, you might overlook it, since they have been so “good.” This is a mistake. The standard of conduct must be relaxed gradually, over many days, not suddenly. A joke or two one day, a couple more the next. You must “test the water,” as it were. If your talkative friend’s comments become too intrusive, you’ll need to take him aside after class. You only need to tell him how much you have enjoyed the occasional comic relief but that it has become too frequent. You don’t want him to stop completely, but he should be more sensitive to your needs of the moment. Suggest that in the future if he sees you give him a serious look, he should stop. You don’t want to offend him, since he does like you and is very likely a class leader. And, since he does like you, this personal appeal to his maturity will undoubtedly be appreciated and respected.

If there are no extroverts to help you relax the atmosphere, you’ll have to do it yourself. You might inject some humor from time to time. They will be uneasy at first but will soon come around. Be careful not to make a student the object of the humor, though. Impromptu, brief conversations with individual students also serve the same purpose.

Go to “Don’t Become too Lax

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3 comments

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  2. Bobbie says:

    What do you do for a student that was at first asking questions that related to class but now is a distraction to the whole class through talking?I like the student genuinely. I also have one more student who is very talkative. I know I have been to lax in my discipline it is my first year teaching. I moved the whole class to different seats. Should I still take the two distracting students aside to ask them to tone it down till school is finished?I am getting to the point where they’re talking is really starting to bother me.

  3. Pete Holden says:

    First, don’t be too discouraged by these sorts of minor problems in your first year. If this is your worst problem this far into the school year, I would bet that you are doing a great job. These sort of nuanced annoyances do develop as the months pass during a school year. As you gain experience you’ll recognize problems earlier when they are easier to extinguish. They are almost inevitably the result of you and the students becoming more relaxed as you have backed off a bit too much in your expectations of behavior.

    If you have a good relationship with these students as you indicate, then you might try explaining to them (privately and individually) that you know their talking isn’t meant to disrupt the class, but it is interfering with the other students’ learning. Of course you don’t expect them to never talk again, but if they are becoming intrusive you will catch their eye and make some gesture to remind them to tone it down. You might try seating them as near as possible to you in the classroom. Be careful that this conversation doesn’t convey anger or disappointment. You realize their behavior isn’t meant to damage the academic environment. You would just appreciate it if they would stay on task without chatting so much.

    If, on the other hand, their talking is to either socialize or get attention with little concern about being intrusive, you’ll need to explain to them (privately and individually) that they are disruptive and harming other students. You WILL seat them right in front of you (but not together) and expect them to be quiet the moment you point at them. If they don’t stop talking they will have to sit somewhere completely separate from others, perhaps even in the hall if that’s possible. And, of course, you’ll need to apply these consequences without hesitation if required.

    Again, while talking to these students don’t display exasperation, frustration or anger. I suspect your problems are just the result of familiarity. You’ve been enjoying your students so much that you’ve relaxed the academic climate beyond where it should be. It’s very hard to get it back now, so don’t be too hard on yourself. In a couple of more years you’ll do just fine.

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