Hey guys! Brooke here, to tell you all about my teacher pet peeve: blurting out! It truly drives me bonkers because its disruptive for the students AND distracting to me!
I’ve never had an issue with this like I have this year! The first week came and I was trying to stay positive, give reminders, and have them practice raising their hand after they’ve blurted. But the problem just kept persisting. The other thing they were doing was yelling my name WHILE raising their hand. Many conversations about patience were had, but I was losing mine!
I wanted school to stay fun and positive for them but I was turning into a cranky teacher on only the second week! I took a step back and thought about how I could explicitly teach the students about this behavior so that they are aware of it, and it could be fixed.
I love a little friendly competition! Especially when it is visible to students, as a constant reminder.
I ended up creating a game called, “Blab Battle!” Here is how to play that game, or you can use these same steps to make up your own game with a similar system.
- Get specific with what you want to fix:
2. Discuss why this needs to change:
3. Brainstorm as a class what they can do to replace the “blabbing”. I have students brainstorm as a group. We have whiteboard tables, so I have them jot down their ideas on the table. I make sure they know everyone should have at least ONE idea picked out to share, because I’ll randomly call on someone from each group.
4. Next we talk about how to kindly remind people not to do this behavior. “Shushing” and saying, “be quiet” actually counts as a blab. This is because they are “shouting out” in it’s on way, AND is unkind. My class came up with a hand signal, a “fist pump” (thank you Jersey Shore) as a reminder.
5. Now you set up a system with incentives. How will you clearly define and measure rewards and consequences for this behavior? This is also important for teachers because when emotions are high (and we are very frustrated with a behavior) it’s easy to give an automatic consequence which may be too harsh. This does not give students the opportunity to change their habits and feel proud of themselves because of it. It also puts the teacher-student relationship at risk.
Personal story time- you can skip this chunk and go to #6 if you want to continue reading the steps!
My first year of teaching, I used a marble jar as my classroom management system. I kind of *not really* had a system to the marble jar. But, basically any time they did something “good” they got a marble and any time there was an issue, they lost a marble. We were having a Valentine’s Day party and students were decorating sugar cookies with frosting. I knew they would be hyper and excited but I was not prepared for what that hour of our class would be like. They. Were. Wild. And I was stressed. I wanted them to have fun but, I didn’t know how to establish clear boundaries. We stopped multiple times and talked about “calming down” but it wasn’t doing much. Towards the end of the party, I had a student yell, sprint through the class, and when he turned around, he had blue frosting smeared all over his face.
Now, did I set up clear expectations before we had this party? Absolutely not. Did I have a strong classroom management system in general? Not in the slightest. But I *felt* they should have known better, and I was livid. I walked over to that marble jar and dumped them ALL out. Usually students would lose 1 marble for things here and there, this time, they lost about 50 marbles. They all looked at me wide eyed and horrified. And in that moment, to be 100% honest, that was the type of reaction I was looking for. I wanted them to know that I meant business and they crossed the line. I’m not proud of it, and maybe they did learn a lesson from that, but after I calmed down I realized that wasn’t fair. And I knew that I wouldn’t be doing that again. I was the one who ended up learning a lesson. It’s easier to be clear with your expectations in order to prevent these things, than to deal with them.
That’s why we have to break down behavior expectations, rewards, and consequences in a way that makes sense to students! When students knows what is expected, and what to expect… they are more likely to think about their choices.
Now Back to how to do exactly that!
#6 This is continuing our last step, how I set up our system and rules of the game “Blab Battle”:
a.) Each class starts the week off with $10 worth of Blab Bucks. This is their weekly “paycheck”. If you are self contained you could do this by table group.
b.) Each time there is a “blab”, they lose $1 from their paycheck.
c.) In my class, they can not earn a Blab Buck back after it has been lost. You can change this rule if you want, but make sure to clearly define HOW they can earn it back.
d.) At the end of the the week, however much is left of their paycheck, goes into their “bank accounts”.
e.) The first bank account that reaches $100 earns the reward. The reward my students are currently working for in my class is hot cocoa. Some teachers like to shorten this goal, and you can edit this part of the game to fit the needs of your class! They love to come in every day and see where the other classes are standing. I hear them reminding each other to raise their hands and language being used like, “Don’t! That was a blab!”. They are now in charge of this situation instead of me. Thank goodness because I have a million other things to be in charge of!
f.) If students have more that 10 “blabs” in a week, and their paycheck is at $0, they start getting taxed -$1 for each blab. So if at the end of the week, their paycheck is -$3, then the teacher will subtract $3 from their bank account, instead of adding to it.
#7: Review expectations when needed! For my class, the very first week they were losing Blab Bucks quickly. That was them realizing the issue we had going on, and visibly seeing their reminders have a consequence within the competition. At the beginning of the second week, I quickly reviewed what we were working on and pointed out that their paychecks were reset to $10. By the end of the second week, the issue of shouting out and talking out of turn was much better, and the loss of Blab Bucks were more spread out and less frequent.
Students should not be going in to the negatives often. IF your students are getting into the negatives for more than 1 week in a row…ALL expectations need to be reviewed. Go back to square one. And keep reviewing and practicing until expectations are met. I promise, they are capable!
The last thing I wanted to point out, is that although they are working for a prize, the big picture, is that students are learning to work together and follow rules. This makes them feel good and that turns in to intrinsic motivation! It is important to PRAISE when you see students doing the right thing. Almost EVERY time I call on a student, I start it with, “Yes, Jessica? Thank you for raising your hand!”. It’s a specific praise that lets students know they are doing the right thing. No matter the student, they want to feel loved by their teacher and that positive praise makes them feel noticed and appreciated.
We hope this was helpful to you all! and if you want to see video versions of ”blab battle” explanations, go check out our Instagram @twoteachersinfifth. We have an entire highlight on our page dedicated to it. Have a wonderful school year!
Useful links: Blab Battle Game TPT Store Puzzle Wars Game Blue Magnetic shelf ($$ spendy but durable) Velcro we use *aff link* Laminate we use *aff link* Laminator we use *aff link*