Teach all your students what perfect looks like and practice perfect anytime there is a vacation or they start to slip.

Dear Classroom Whisperer:

I’m having trouble with 4 students in my class. When the bell rings, I count down from 3 to let student know I want them to pay attention to me so we can continue with the lesson. These 4 students keep goofing off, talking, and laughing everyday. I explain to the class that I will wait until everyone is quiet.

One of the students usually says something like, “Good because I don’t want to learn math anyway” and the others all giggle. Usually after about 5 minutes, they quiet down and I can start. Once the math instructions have been given, I explain to the class that extra talking is not respectful and to refrain next time. I am just at a loss of what to do.

I understand that it is almost the end of the year, but how can I stop this behavior from occurring? ALSO, what should I do at the beginning of next year to ensure this doesn’t happen?

Thank you!

Mrs. C. – Math Teacher in North Carolina

Dear Mrs. C:

The next time you meet with this class, put down your lesson plan and have a conversation about this problem, how it’s effecting the other students and what they would all like to see happen going forward. Have the students come up with a reasonable and enforceable consequence that needs to include the student or students being moved away from the rest of the class until they are ready to participate.

Next, teach the entire class what you expect them to be doing after you’ve counted down from 3. Show them what “paying attention” looks like and have them all practice it. When there’s a transgression, ask specifically for the behavior modification you want i.e., “Sam, I need you quite and eyes on me” and if that doesn’t happen apply the consequence and keep teaching. If it keeps happening, keep applying the consequence, don’t repeat yourself and keep teaching.

Remember, you’re the adult in the room and their goal is to distract you from teaching so they won’t have to learn.

As far as next year is concerned, start this process from day 1 with the 3-4 rules and 5-7 procedures that matter to you, teach all your students what perfect looks like and practice perfect anytime there is a vacation or they start to slip.

Keep your head high and thank you for all you do everyday to change the future.

Rusty May, Classroom Whisperer


Rusty May is a Classroom Whisperer who thrives to inspire educators to connect more completely with all their students by training them to be assertive classroom managers and positive disciplinarians. In 2002 Rusty created SchoolToolsTv.Com, a daily SEL show that reaches 25k Students per day. His inspiration are his wife and their two children.

Rusty’s trainings are fun, interactive and full of real tools you can start using in your classroom the very next day without any prep or additional busy work on your end. Ask for a free quote today!