To keep the noise level down on the H.S. level, I'll usually have a
signal which means I need everyone's attention right now, all eyes looking up
front to me and everyone quiet. This signal has been introduced from the
beginning of school, but can also be introduced to the class after a quarter
or semester break, "OK, from now on, when I bang on this tin can.... etc."
When a class is too noisy and "out of control", I don't try to regain
control right then and there. Why waste your breath or vocal chords? I walk
around the room (movement is critical) and observe the class. Students will
try to distract you, but keep moving calmly around the class. Observe from
different angles, from the back, from the sides, in the middle. Go home and
make a plan. You've noticed which tables are the noisiest, who the main
culprits are. Next day, don't let students get any supplies. You control
that. They must sit and wait. You tell them that you expect them to behave
properly, you have goals for the class, you want all of them to succeed. Make
seating changes. Put loud, off task kids next to quiet students. Extremely
unruly kids need to be disciplined in whatever way your school does that
(sent to the office, a referral to the A.P., etc.) Calls home are effective,
but like you said, don't expect parents or even your school administration to
back you up always.
I'm sounding like an authority on the subject, but believe me, I deal
with 36 teenagers per class in Art 1 public school classes every day. It
Today's art classrooms have kids who are getting no direction at home.
Parents are too busy working to make mortgage and SUV payments.
Hope this helps,
Dennis in beautiful California