Can I keep every class quiet? Notice that I used the adjective “every” in the preceding sentence. Therefore, the answer to that question is absolutely not. I am a substitute, not God. Besides, the mix of “outgoing” personalities negates a hundred percent score, even a 60/40 score. What I can do, with the more difficult classes, is to keep the volume down to “small party” level and not “mass hysteria” level. How do I do this? By walking around the classroom…constantly. And perhaps standing in a group of students’ space. You see, they don’t want me to be a part of their conversation. I do not wish to be a part of their conversation. In fact, I am trying to tell them, both in words and through actions, to have their conversation later, like after classes or at lunch.
This type of student conversation is different from the necessary student conversations of math classes when one student assists another with class work, but even those conversations need to be kept to a low conversational, or rather instructional, volume. And those students understand, although they may need to be reminded from time to time. No, the personal conversations are the ones that interrupt the flow of education in the classroom, for there are usually several personal conversations going on at once, and they all seem to compete for listeners. These conversations interfere with my relaying the educational instructions to the class and then my individual assistance to various students. I literally can’t hear myself think.
However, administering tests is different. There I try for about a ninety to ninety-five percent control. How? Again, by walking around constantly, watching everyone’s eyes, standing in a student’s space, or if necessary, sending a student and test to the internal suspension room or principal’s office for the test duration depending upon school rules. As a last resort, after quietly telling students in an area to keep their eyes on their own papers but meeting the student in question’s eyes, after showing the good student how to cover his or her test paper, I may need to take the test from a student and inform the teacher of the situation and let that teacher decide the next step. Luckily, students learn to understand that I mean what I say, and cheating is almost non-existent. I bet you noticed that I said “almost.” I told you I wasn’t God.