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The Kid Whisperers March 28, 2012

Posted by Jessica in behavior, early childhood education, management.
Tags: , , , ,

You may know one. There are teachers out there whose classrooms function calmly in a storm of 30 little bodies…60 grabby hands…300 wiggly fingers. My son had such a teacher last year. I will call her Mrs. S.

If I could follow Mrs. S covertly, observing her every move to soak up her strategy without being slapped with a restraining order, I would. As it is, I grill my son daily and hope to keep learning about her magic methods in third person as I scramble to make sense of behavior management genius through the eyes of a six-year-old.

“Here’s Your Sign”

In the past I have usually used sign language as a way of “quietly interrupting a lesson” if a student needs to go to the bathroom.  If are in the midst of reading a story, helping another student, conducting reading groups, this will be the time you are interrupted by one child after another wanting to go to the bathroom.  It is such a relieve when, instead of being interrupted by “Ms. So-And-So!, Ms. So-And-So”, I can scan the room and see the sign for toilet.

With a nod of my head, I continue my reading group (min-lesson, assessment, or story) without verbal distractions from the group.

Bathroom needs are not the only interruptions you will have, as you may know.  By using signs you can consistently minimize distractions and interruptions.  So following I will share some handy-dandies that I have stolen learned from stalking observing Mrs. S.


For the little boy who cannot sit still on the rug, the little girl who is whispering to another student during instruction, or the child who is playing with toys on the shelf, make eye-contact, give the teacher stare, and sign:  Self-Control

ASL Self Control

This can also be useful for the class who has gotten way too excited.  Use an attention-grabbing sound (I suggest a rain stick) to bring their little eyes back to you, establish that eye contact and teacher stare, and go for it:  Self-Control


Our one-on-one instruction is the ESSENCE of differentiated education in this day and age.  Many interruptions make it nearly impossible to complete a short, 5-10 minute personalized or small group mini-lesson.  Teaching your students the help sign and giving them a nod to acknowledge it while jotting their name quickly on a note pad tells them, “You’re important and you’re on my list… right after I finish this”, minimizing interruptions and maximizing work potential for teachers as well as students.

Stop It…Now

So many uses!  “Stop” is the forerunner for the teacher who wants to give a child a warning, but continue to teach the lesson.  “Stop It… Now!” is so much more emphatic… and she can reserve it for those “You’ve gone over the line moments.”  Be serious if you use it.  Your students will also start to use it in their own conflict resolution, a real win-win.  Begin with “Stop”.  Move into the entire phrase.


Learn from the best.  Watch the masters.  It has made such a difference in my classroom.  Try it.  Tell me about it.  Did you come closer to becoming a kid-whisperer?


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