Shutting the shouters up, in class and on Twitter

Shut him up!
Have you ever had a student in class that just won't shut up and won't let anyone else talk? Or perhaps you've been a student in a class like that yourself — or found yourself at meetings where the same thing has happened?

I've had a few students like that in my time (I'll come to Twitter in a moment), mostly but not exclusively slightly older blokes and mostly people who not only talk too much, they also talk way too loud, and not only drown out everyone else, they also — excuse the language, but there's no other word for it — piss everyone else off and ruin the class for the rest of the term.

In such circumstances, the following have not always succeeded in gaining at least a temporary respite, rolled out with varying degrees of subtlety, or lack thereof:

  • Proximity — by which I mean standing close to him (let's call him that), towering over him, even standing in front of his view of the other members of the class
  • A traffic cop "Stop" hand signal to the person, followed go a "Go" signal to someone else who looks as if they have something to say
  • Looking at him, catching his eye and putting my fingers on my lips
  • Joking openly about the issue
  • If necessary, reducing any whole-class discussion to a minimum and doing more pair- and groupwork (and ensuring there are frequent changes of partner!)
  • Putting on my best "pissed off" face, adopting a fists-on-hips stance and then openly using the expression "John, zip it!"
  • Sarcasm (generally when I've started to lose it over the matter)
  • A private word with the offender after class

It's one of the classroom management issues that can be really tough to deal with — but, for the sake of everyone else in your class, you have to do that.

Shouting via Twitter
Twitter…? Ah, yes! On Twitter, you have the equivalent: the person that tweets way, way too much.

In a classroom, sometimes it's attention seeking, sometimes it's just bullying, often it's hard to pinpoint the cause of such behaviour, sometimes the offender isn't even aware that he's doing it — but on Twitter (and the rest of social media, for that matter), it's part of a PLAN!

You see, the social media marketing gurus tell you that you need to tweet a lot to stay on people's radars — and that would be even when you've got nothing of interest to say or share.

If you're on Twitter, you're probably learning to use it, and probably hoping to learn things from it. The tweets from the people you follow will appear in your feed, which thus becomes your (very informal, very chaotic) "classroom".

But you can't learn if there's someone there shouting all the time, pumping out attention-seeking garbage constantly, flooding your feed and drowning out other people who you could learn from.

You want to shut them up, and the good news is that it's real easy: unfollow them. No matter who they are. No matter how many other followers they have.

Twitter is actually really good for professional development, for finding new ideas and generally going on becoming a better teacher — provided you un-follow the right people!

Have you ever managed to lose a "shouter" from one of your classes? The silence is bliss!

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One Comment

  1. An example: in under the last 25 minutes, an educational organization (!!!!!!) that IH Barcelona "follows" has posted at least 40 tweets (!!!!).

    Is that spamming or what?

    Twitter would be SO much better if you could not post more than once an hour, with something like 6 tweets max in any one day (with possibly a much higher daily allowance for replies).

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