Don’t Interrupt Unless You Are…..

What strategies do you use for protecting teaching time?

Teaching demands a fair amount of group and one-to-one time which is never easy to manage.

Working with individuals or a small group isn’t really the problem – being constantly interrupted by others is.

There will always be plenty of other children who demand your attention when you are talking to their peers but you’ve got to protect this valuable time.

How can you implement an interruption free zone?

Teachers have their own methods for doing this but one method I recently discovered was the 3Bs. It’s something that kindergarten students in some schools might well be familiar with and it helps them make decisions about whether to interrupt a teacher or wait.

At Apsire Berkley Maynard Academy kindergarten teacher Mary Abdul-Wajid uses a visual clue by wearing a flower necklace and this acts as a highly visible sign that important teaching time is in progress.

She also uses the 3Bs: are you barfing, burning or bleeding? If you aren’t then it can wait. ‘Barfing’ isn’t a commonly used word in UK classrooms but this is ‘vomiting’.

The 3Bs approach could work to help manage interruptions and it does give children a tool for self-assessing and managing their needs and only interrupting learning if there is a genuine emergency.

Look at the following video of Mary explaining the 3Bs here. 

Clearly and explicitly teaching expectations to children is important but what do you think to the 3Bs as a strategy? What about needs related to the toilet? I think there are a couple of emergencies here we can think of!

I have seen the 3Bs used before and by the same teacher who uses the 4Ss which is used for lining up: are you silent, still, straight and smiling? Children love quoting the 3Bs and 4Ss at each other and so can be used to regulate behaviour.

You could combine this with the C4B4ME to promote independence so children have options about what to do before coming to you for help:

  1. Brain – stop and think. What knowledge do you have to solve this problem?
  2. Board – is there any instruction or some help on the whiteboard?
  3. Book – where could you look for more information (including online)?
  4. Buddy – can one of my friends help me?
  5. Boss – be prepared to your teacher what you have tried to solve your problem.

You may also know this as Ask 3 then Me and is perfect for small group time and fosters collaboration and cooperation.

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