Decreasing a Student’s Calling-Out Behaviors
By Dr. Kenneth Shore
Calling out is one of the more common problems encountered by teachers. Fortunately it is also one of the easier problems to manage. A student’s classroom interruptions may take different forms — from blurting out an answer without raising his hand to responding when another student has been called on to making an unsolicited comment in the middle of a lesson or discussion. Whatever form the interruption takes, students who call out can get you and the class off track. They may also prevent other students from participating. In addition, if students are allowed to call out and gain your attention, classmates will be encouraged to follow their lead and call out as well.
What You Can Do
- Seat a student who is prone to calling out near you. Seat the student near where you typically stand when you are presenting a lesson. This allows you to anticipate when he is about to blurt out an answer and signal him quietly to raise his hand.
- Ignore students who call out and only call on those who raise their hand. Giving attention to a student who calls out will make it more likely that he will call out in the future. Try to ignore his interruption, if possible, by continuing with your lesson and calling on a student who has raised his hand, perhaps making a comment such as “Danielle, I like the way you’re raising your hand and waiting to be called on.” The message to the student is that he will gain more attention if he raises his hand than if he calls out.
- Use behavior modification. An easy way to do this is to divide a 3 x 5 card into ten boxes and tape it to the student’s desk. Set a timer for 30 minutes at the beginning of the day. If the student does not call out within the 30-minute period, put your initials in a box and reset the timer. If he does call out, reset the timer immediately but do not initial the card. When all ten boxes are initialed, provide the student with an agreed-upon reward or privilege. Adjust the length of the period and the number of boxes needed to obtain a reward with the age of the student and the severity of the problem.
- Teach the student to monitor his own behavior. Have the student keep track of the times he calls out as a way of raising his awareness of his behavior. One way of doing this is to tape to his desk a 3 x 5 card that is divided into the days of the week. Have him put a check in the appropriate box each time he calls out. Review the card with him at the end of the week to see if he has made progress. If so, reward him either with praise or a classroom privilege.
- Set aside a specific time every day to talk with students. Some students feel the need to talk with you in the middle of an activity. Let your students know a specific time when they can talk to you about any concerns. Suggest that they write a note to themselves if they are concerned about forgetting what they want to say.
- Teach the impulsive student how to hold onto his thoughts. Impulsive students will tell you that they had to speak immediately or else they would have forgotten what they wanted to say. If you have a student with this problem, suggest that he jot down a phrase or sentence to remember what he wanted to stay. After calling on him, give him time to remember or reconstruct his thoughts.