Friday, February 3, 2012

Your New Best Friend: The Chime

Let's talk some classroom management, shall we? This little item, while looking pretty unassumingly wooden and shiny, packs a nice wallop in the "getting children's attention" department. I use mine every single day for every single class! The important thing to remember when using a special signal is to have an clear intention every time you use it. We start the class with this clear sound, while I sit in my rocking chair, smile and make eye contact with every child sitting in front of me during our greeting. The tone lasts until you simply touch it.

I also use it as a signal for clean up--or any transition during our studio time. For me, the tone of a chime, gong or bell is the best way to get the attention of a group of kids. I think that's because after a while, in a school setting, children tend to tune out the sound of a teacher's voice, not intentionally, but because they hear us all day long and we sometimes just blend into whatever activity is happening at a given time. Also, children do get absorbed in their activities and many of them need a gentle, yet clear signal that stands out from the natural chatter or concentration that occurs during an engaging work time. This focus on and involvement in a task is called "flow" a phrase coined by and written about by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced "chick-sent-me-high-ee", thank you google!) in his book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. More on him later, because he has some very interesting and inspirational ideas for teachers!

Anyway--back to chimes... A chime, or any other instrument you choose for your classroom "signal" is just one part of the ritual and routine you can create, that your students will learn to recognize and appreciate. We'll talk more about creating ritual and routine in another's one of my favorite topics!

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