Teaching Your Class to Line Up Quietly

 

Lining up quietly:  it seems like such a simple thing!  However, this year it has been quite a challenge to get my class to simply line up quietly and then wait at the door for directions.  However, I finally found the key to getting this rather challenging group of kiddos from one place to another without tearing my hair out at the roots!  Read on, and I’ll tell you how I did it.  And if you are lucky enough to not have experienced this problem yet in your teaching career, then kudos to you!

SitSpots!
 

So let’s set the scene first.  You would think that after 27 years of teaching, I would have seen everything and would have handled every single problem that could come up. However, with this group of kids, it’s almost as if many are just waiting for me to say, “Line up!” so that they can go play by the door.  The next thing you know, the volume in the room is so very LOUD that the children would not hear a thing I say unless I shouted!  I’ve tried all kinds of things to get their attention again at the door quickly but no matter what, it can take (up to) two full minutes to get them quiet again so that we can walk out the door.

 

I do have them in a specific line up order by using SitSpots with their student numbers on them to separate children that don’t do well together.  This is an AWESOME way to separate certain kiddos!  My class now knows their “Line Up Order.”  If we are out at an assembly or finished with PE, I can say, “Line Up Order!” and the children will sort themselves into two lines in the order of my choosing.  🙂  This is wonderful, however I can’t seem to keep my kiddos separated *enough* this year because are simply too many of them for the line up order to make an impact. (I am an affiliate of SitSpots!)

 

The Solution

So what finally happened?  I began to realize that if I asked them to line up from their desks rather than as they finished centers, groups, or some other other activity in which they were scattered around the room, things went MUCH better.  In fact, as long as I had them QUIET and SETTLED BEFORE I ASKED THEM TO LINE UP, THEY WERE ABLE TO LINE UP CALMLY AND QUIETLY!  The main problem was that when I would ask them to line up as they finished their groups, some kids would come right away and others would come a few minutes later.  As those that got to the line first waited, the mischief grew as boredom set in.  And as they got into this routine, they began to expect lining up to be a time of misbehavior.

 

Children with challenging behaviors often benefit from structure.  So I imposed strict structure on the procedures for lining up so that they NEVER got the chance to bring the volume up so high!

 

Some Basic Procedures for Lining Up

Here is my routine for getting my class to line up calmly and quietly.

I try to AVOID RUSHING this process.  I leave myself plenty of time to get them lined up nicely as much as possible.  Remember:  frantic teacher = frantic students.

Lining up quietly starts BEFORE I ask them to line up.  I have them go to their desks and sit down before I ask anyone to line up.  My class is used to responding to “Musical Cues,” so I put a song on my mp3 player, and my kids know that they have to have their things put away and sit down at their seats before the song is over.  If the whole class is seated and quiet when the song ends, they earn a puzzle piece. (When the puzzle is completed, the class earns a reward.)

 

Once they are quiet at their seats, I tell them where we are going and that we are going to line up, one group at a time.  I tell the kids that we are going to “let the girls show us how to line up quietly,” or the boys, or table three, etc.  Depending on how they do, I praise or correct, and then I release the next group.

Once everyone is lined up at the door, correct any children still talking, and give them a CONSEQUENCE.  I either give ClassDojo points to everyone that lined up quietly, or take away points from those that did not.  Thankfully, there are always fewer kids misbehaving when I line them up this way than having everyone just line up from wherever they were working in the room.  Last week, a few of my boys that had trouble got to spend some time inside at recess thinking about it.  I had them clean up our classroom for about five minutes and then sent them on their way.

 

What About Walking in Line Quietly?

Getting them to just WALK in line quietly has been a challenge in itself, as you can probably imagine.  If lining up is that hard, what is walking like?  Well, I have done a couple of things that have helped, but I we are still working on it.

Part of the problem is that my classroom is SOOOO far away from the main campus that we have to do quite a bit of walking in line each day, back and forth for our reading groups, recess, lunch, PE, computer lab, library… you name it!  The more we do it, the harder it is to take the time I need to make them comply with my instructions.

The other issue is that many of us seem to have plenty of extra energy to expel during the day, and sometimes it seems like opening the door is akin to letting the monkeys out of their cage!  Really, what else would you expect?  These second graders NEED more chances to move during the day than I can possibly provide while still covering the curriculum. These kids have a lot of movement needs, and I think I would rather have them get it out as we walk from one building to another!  This was easily done when I taught Kindergarten and first grade, because I depended more on my sight word spelling songs, alphabet, number and shape songs, etc.

 

At the second grade level, I have used my phonics and math songs as much as possible, but they really need even more movement than that.  And yes, we do use GoNoodle, but I limit it because I need them to stay focused on my specific lesson/standard.  Time to write more songs!  🙂

However, keeping all of this in mind, there are a few things that are helping:

Choose a “Secret Walker”:  I usually let ClassDojo choose someone at random before we leave the room, and then that person will get points or a sticker, etc., if he or she was walking quietly the whole time.

Line competitions:  Have a contest between boys against girls, or line one against line two, etc., to see which line will be the quietest.  The quietest line gets to get into the cafeteria first.  Or, they could get Dojo points, table points, etc.

– We sing the “Line Up!” song from my Classroom Management CD/DVD!

 

I found this great conversation thread on Proteacher.org regarding getting kids to line up and walk nicely.  There are lots of great ideas on there; it’s definitely worth checking out!

 

I hope this was helpful!  You may also like these blog posts as well:

Getting Control of a Very Difficult Class

Getting Control of a Very Difficult Class, Take TWO

Getting Control of a Very Talkative Class

Getting Control of Your Classroom Dismissal Time

Getting Control of Classroom Transitions

What to Do When Kids Won’t Do Their Work.. Until Recess!

Classroom Management Games Kids LOVE!

Getting It All Done in a Very Difficult Class

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Heidi Butkus

About Heidi Butkus

Heidi Butkus has been teaching in California public schools since 1985. She has somehow managed to stay in Kindergarten all of those years, with the exception of five years in first grade, and also taught a parent participation preschool for a short while! Combining a strong knowledge of brain research with practical experience, Heidi has created a wealth of fun and engaging teaching techniques that work well with diverse populations. She has presented at conferences nationwide, and is the owner and founder of HeidiSongs.com. Heidi has also created fourteen original CD's and DVD's for teaching beginning reading and math skills, three musical plays designed especially for young performers, and has written some picture books and many other teaching resources. Heidi's multimedia workshops are filled with fun and motivational educational activities that have been classroom tested and revised for effectiveness with all types of learners.
  1. I tell mine that when they line up too noisily, it tells me they need more practice, so we take recess or Choice Time to practice, or do it immediately. This has worked the best, especially if you remember to use a sweet, understanding voice (not always easy) to tell them.

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