1-2-3 Come Learn Some Hand Signals With Me and Take Control of Interruptions!
Ask any teacher what their students' most frequently asked question is and "Can I go to the bathroom?" will be in the top 3. "Can I get a drink?" and "Can I sharpen my pencil?" Will be right up there as well.
If their question was grammatically incorrect, as with the above use of "can", to help teach appropriate grammar, I'd often reply: "Yes you CAN, but NO, you MAY not." I'd explain this from the beginning and pretty soon all of my students were learning the proper use of the word "may".
Young children, simply being kids, are often interrupting. An obvious remedy to this problem is enforcing the raising of hands. Because this is easily understood, I thought I'd take it a step farther.
If you want to go to the bathroom you make a fist and stick out your thumb. Displaying a specific number of fingers, to signal a need, has been around since I was a child, however, instead of putting up 1 finger, I found it especially helpful, to do the "fist and thumb" for a bathroom request, simply because my Y5's were often raising and waving their hands, but never with a fist. I could then see at a glance, who needed immediate attention.
This technique is so simple, yet really works. Start out by teaching the concept on the 1st day of school. Choose one of the posters, print several copies, laminate, and hang up in several "sure to be seen" places in your room, and then practice a bit.
The hand signals are especially helpful when you are explaining something. No need for a child to raise their hand and state their need out loud. They just put up a hand signal; you make eye contact with that student and nod yes or no. This also avoids children getting out of their seats to ask you, and lessens "copy cats." Have you ever noticed how many kiddo's all of a sudden need to do something, just because one child got the ball rolling?
Some teachers add "Get a tissue" as another signal, but I feel if you need a Kleenex, because you just sneezed and snot is running down your face, no need to hesitate, just go get one and take care of business. I let students know from day one, that they could get a tissue whenever the need arose, and then follow up with a squirt of hand sanitizer shortly after. In all of my years of teaching, no one ever abused the privilege.
Click on the link to view/download the Signal Me anchor chart-poster, and let the training begin! I've also designed a few more classroom posters for back-to-school week. To view the 2nd article I wrote for today, simply scroll down.
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"In the garden of my loneliness, trespassers will never be prosecuted." -Ashleigh Brilliant