(Excerpted from Tools & Toys)
The average school day consists of approximately 400 minutes. This idea has to do with the last minute. I'm referring to that final sixty seconds before everyone bails out of the room and heads home.
How about using a part of that minute for a moment of silence? It could be used as a time to reflect upon the day or merely to establish a serene atmosphere for dismissal.
Whatever your ultimate purpose will be--and you'll find it changing as you try this simple yet soothing technique--spending a portion of the last minute of the day in silence will have a wonderfully calming effect upon your students.
Standing in front of his students at the end of the day:
Everyone rise please, and slide your chair under your desk.
Pausing for compliance:
Thirty seconds of silence beginning.......now.
Waiting calmly and quietly the entire time.
Thirty seconds later:
That was another great day. I'll see you all tomorrow.
To begin with, you might want to try just fifteen seconds of silence. That doesn't seem like a terribly long period of time until you actually do it. Stop reading and give it a try. Sit quietly for fifteen seconds. As you do this, picture yourself in front of your students as they wait silently. It was longer than you imagined, wasn't it?
After a week or so of fifteen seconds of silence, move up to thirty. Within a month, you'll have them patiently holding still as they wait for your dismissal message.
Caution: Avoid the very real temptation of invading the silence with some last second announcement or reminder. The success of most classroom ideas is predicated upon your own participation and respect for the rules.
Intervention: For those students who are going to challenge you by being less than silent, try standing next to them before asking them to stand silently. If that doesn't work, speak with them after class.
Gettin' Tough: Another way to deal with a recalcitrant group would be to stop timing, repeat your request for thirty seconds of silence, and start the timing over. (Try using a digital stop watch.) Given time, even the most jaded of souls will refrain from interrupting the peace with their noisome presence.