First off, I am not David, he is my brother-in-law and owner of the e-mail
address. I am Deb Rosenbaum.
Sounds like your school is even worse than mine. The problem you asked for
help with, "excessive noise," is also the raw nerve of my days. I teach
only 4th - 6th graders as I am on an independent contract with two public
schools. Since this is my first time in public school after 7 years at a
Catholic High School, I was not prepared for the disorganization and chaos.
Kids come in and out of the art class constantly from special reading
classes or math, or clubs or whatever. I have to stop and give out the
instructions again when the rest of the room is in high holler.
I have found two things which help a bit. First I sent a memo to all the
teachers asking them to please stay in the classroom while I am there and
to assist with discipline. This helped because many of them would leave
for the lounge when they saw me coming or else they would sit at their
computers completely oblivious to the room while I was teaching. I told
them I especially needed help during clean up at the end of the period. I
tried to word the memo in a very positive way, commenting on the great art
work the kids were doing and thanking them for all their help BEFORE I
asked them to stay in the room.
I also told began suspending students from art for the following week. If
I have to speak to an individual student more than two times, they must do
classwork durng art the following week. I informed the teachers of this
policy and supply them with names so they can prepare work for those
students and supervise them. This works well, most kids do not want to
lose art. It will probably take one or two examples to be made before they
believe you mean business. Be firm and don't relent. The first two boys
that lost art after I initiated this policy had finished their projects and
were wrestling on the floor. It made the rest of the class, sit up and
take notice. They worked quietly after that.
I have, on occasion taken a whistle into class (the metal, referee type)
which I'll blow as loudly as I can when it gets too loud. This gets their
attention quickly without my having to yell. Some teachers turn off the
lights as a sign that the kids are to stop whatever they're doing and put
their heads down until order is restored. If this is done more than twice,
you should pack up your cart and leave.
Basically I have had to accept a few things myself. One is that I will not
use my energy to get and keep kids quiet any more--I find myself drained
and irritable when I get home. Secondly, I am working on tolerating the
noise level a bit more myself. Kids love art and get excited by it.
Sometimes they work together on projects and are throwing ideas around and
play behavior kicks in.
Kids will come in and out and there will be noises in the halls. I am
trying to remember that as long as they are actively working on task, I am
doing my job.
I hope this helps a bit. My students did great things with cardboard
sculpture this week. I gave them some basic instructions in forming
shapes and attaching pieces and then gave them the freedom to make what
ever they wanted as long as it was 3-D. One group of boys made some
fantastic airplanes and then constructed a whole airport for them with a
control tower. (They will paper mache these next week.) It was noisey and
wild with carboard flying everywhere, but the kids were doing super work
and everyone was on task. I find the more I let go, the better their work
Any other suggesdtions out there for noise control?
A pat on the back is only a few centimeters from a kick in the butt.