Shushing Teachers, What Do They Know?
I hope you aren’t a shushing teacher.
I was once upon a time but I managed to stop and I’m so glad I did.
I was told that a “Shush, shush!” here and a “Shush, shush!” there would work wonders but it actually became either white noise or something children would mimic behind my back.
Shushing is a slushy and ineffective way of managing children’s behaviour and I squirm thinking about what I used to do. Yes, shushing is a teacher deadly sin.
I belonged to a shushing school once where every teacher shushed throughout the day especially assemblies and lining up in the playground. A culture of shush was the order to the day so I joined in and did my fair share of shushing.
In fact working in Shushing Primary School was a bit of a laugh. We had guest speakers and visitors attending for assemblies and these just turned into one big shush fest with virtually every teacher sat on the perimeter of the hall shushing and staring with either fingers on lips or arms folded.
“It was hilarious!” one visitor told me after doing a special assembly. “I’ve never heard so much shushing!”
A symphony of shushing teachers in assembly is not music to the ears. The odd shush here and there might be okay but shushing en masse is disconcerting.
But shushing is what teachers do and it’s especially noticeable when you leave the school and go on a trip to somewhere like a theatre. They shush with index finger poised over puckered lips and look possessed. They know they are losing the battle but they continue to shush.
Read this blog from Wizard Presents and you will see the devastating impact of shushing on the build-up to a performance.
Do you need to shush? Is your shushing almost like a nervous tic or habit? It’s a bit like John Bercow saying “Order, orderrrrrrrrr!” over and over again.
Shushing doesn’t actually work and it can be more than a bit depressing. It’s time to hush the shush.
If you want to do something more effective then reach for the remote control and press the volume button by introducing speaking levels. You can create a poster for reference to detail the following acceptable levels of chat:
- Level 0: No Talking
- Level 1: Whispering
- Level 2: Small Group Discussion
- Level 3: Whole Class Sharing
Children will soon learn what the levels mean and for assemblies they will know when you say, “We are on a level zero.”
Some teachers play music at the start of a lesson and count down from 10 and lower the volume as they count. When they get to zero, the music is silent and hopefully so is the room.
My own personal favourite was to just use a service bell I had on my desk. All I would do was ring it a few times and that was the signal to “shush”! It worked every time. Other ‘attention getters‘ are available and edudextrous teachers make full use of them.
It is possible to shush a class without actually shushing by cultivating benevolent authority, learning the power of the whisper and putting out the fuse rather than waiting for the explosion.