Students talking during instruction is something that a LOT of teachers struggle with. I believe it is because they are not sure this is a battle they need to fight. It is annoying, but kids will be kids, right? What's the big deal about a little bit of talking during the lesson?
In my opinion, talking during instruction is just plain rude. How can the kids hear the teacher when other kids are talking? How can the ones talking actually listen to the teacher at the same time? If students are carrying on a conversation during the lesson, they are checked out. Later, these same students will ask the teacher to repeat instructions and demonstrate the technique just for them, or they will continue to be disruptive during independent work because they have no idea what to do.
Every classroom management book I've ever come across recommends that you DO NOT TEACH until you have EVERYONE'S attention. Period. Allowing students to do anything else will sabotage the learning environment, slowly but surely.
Once you DECIDE this is a behavior that is NOT ALLOWED, and you figure out a consequence that the kids will take seriously, the behavior will dwindle down.
Truth #1: You can't stop kids from talking but you can provide consequences when they do.
Truth #2: If you consistently follow through, every single time a student chooses to talk during instruction, you will have fewer and fewer students do it.
Truth #3: Kids need to know expectations and will trust you when you are consistently following through, doing exactly what you said you will do. Kids will not respect a teacher who lets them get away with things they have been told are not allowed.
Truth #4: If you are even a little bit inconsistent, they will push and push and push to see how far they can go. Inconsistency is a recipe for a great deal of frustration for teachers and students alike.
Several other factors need to be in place in order for any discipline strategy to "work:"
- a positive, warm classroom atmosphere where the kids know the teacher cares for and respects them, even when the teacher has to discipline them
- engaging, interesting lessons that relate to the kids' lives
- the teacher limiting the initial instruction time to no more than 12-15 minutes as well as showing examples, non-examples, and breaking the activity down to basic steps
- the kids know the "big idea," the "why" behind the lesson
HELP! MY STUDENTS ARE TALKING WHILE I AM TALKING! ... elementary, middle, and high school advice to limit disruptive chatting
HELP! MY STUDENTS ARE TALKING TOO MUCH! ... this article lists strategies and resources to help quiet noisy classes