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Managing volume during student work time will always and forever be one of the most difficult parts of an art class. You can encourage a class of excited artists to calm their voices, and they will be quiet for what feels like twenty-three seconds. You know the feeling when you are trying to help an individual artist, and you can barely hear each other talk because of the sheer volume in your art room. Do not fear. We have all been there.
If you are teaching students virtually, you have the benefit of being able to “mute” your students, but we all know, even that can create issues. From unmuting microphones to blurt something to another friend, to a student forgetting to put themselves back on mute and hearing their dog barking loudly in the background, this situation is far from perfect.
Managing expectations for voice volume during work time in the art room takes constant practice and continual reminders. Typically, the most out of control part of class is the first five minutes of work time. Naturally, there is more activity during the first few minutes when everyone is getting settled, so students’ voices become elevated.
We call this time “First Five” mindful minutes. It has been a game-changer regarding the volume in our classroom. After the first thirty seconds of commotion calms down and students settle in their seats, start a visual timer of five minutes and announce to your class, “First five has started. That means your voice is off, and you should be working mindfully. If you need help, raise your hand, and we can whisper.”
You can snag this specially formulated glitter jar timer from Nasco that allows the glitter to fall to the bottom of the jar in approximately five minutes.
Or, try making your own glitter jar timer to keep track of “First Five” mindful minutes. You can find many other tips about adding mindfulness techniques into your classroom with Mindfulness in the Elementary Classroom or Social-Emotional Learning PRO Learning Packs.
If you use a volume chart in your classroom, consider having coordinating volume markers at student workspaces so they can quickly see and actively change the marker for the volume expectation. Once the “First Five” are up, students can move their pencil clip to a “T” for table talk.
Remember, you need to find the volume management tool that works best for you and your students. If it is more appropriate for you to try “First Five” minutes with student voices at a whisper, try that! There is no right or wrong way to introduce the best volume practice techniques for your students. Find what works best for you and your classroom routines.
Calming the Classroom Chaos Art Ed Radio Podcast Episode
Classroom Management PRO Learning Pack
Everything You Need to Know About Classroom Management in the Art Room
3 Ways to Handle Classroom Management After the Honeymoon is Over
5 Classroom Management Truths Every Art Teacher Should Know
What is your biggest struggle with volume in your classroom?
What strategies have helped you manage volume with your students?
What time during art class do you feel the volume is at its loudest?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.