Teacher Tip – Use Instruments to Coordinate Your Class!

Getting your class to follow instructions can be a real time suck! Half of your teaching time can be taken up by asking students to sit down or dealing with student disruptions. We’ve already talked about how visual cues can be used to streamline your class, but what about sound cues?

Instruments in the Academic Classroom

We’ve all been there… how many times a day do you find yourself repeating the phrases: ‘Please return to your seats.’, ‘Let’s all make a circle’ or ‘Can we be quiet now please?’ in some form or other? I’m guessing, A LOT! It can be frustrating and a real waste of time when you have more important things to be saying and teaching. One way I’ve found of streamlining this process is by using sound cues.

a picture of a tambourine. simple percussion instruments can be a great way to coordinate your class.

Simple percussion instruments can be your greatest asset. Having a tambourine, triangle or drum on hand can help you control your class quickly. Explain to your students that different sounds signal that they must complete a different action. For example, hitting your triangle once may mean that they need to be silent while hitting it twice may mean they must return to their seats. Shaking the tambourine can be a warning that an activity is ending with a final thump to finish. I’ve often found this helps me to get students into a circle even more quickly and effectively than a countdown.

This is because auditory cues are a pattern interruption, breaking their attention from their current task. Especially when the class are being chatty, your voice may simply add to the din while the loud thud of a drum disturbs it. Spending a minute or two at the start of class to review what your sound signals mean could save you a lot of time repeating yourself throughout the day. You could go even further and create a wall display to remind the students of the signals!

Instruments in the Drama Classroom

As you know, we’re all about drama here at Silly Fish. My love of instruments as a teaching tool first began in the drama classroom but I soon found it to be applicable to all subjects. Instruments can be extra helpful in blocking a show as different sound cues can signal a change in the atmosphere or location etc. Throughout the rehearsal process it can be useful to use sound signals with younger actors to help them remember where they should be going and what they should be doing. As you near the show you can either change these signals to a show related sound or visual which can tighten up the whole performance and help with ensemble reactions.

Let us know if you use instruments in your classroom management!

Rebecca is the founder and chief executive officer of Silly Fish Learning Ltd. She is a children's playwright with a vast and varied career in education, primarily teaching drama and English.

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