In the Art Room

Speak Softly and They Shall Listen

The other day, during a sixth grade art class, I was introducing a new lesson while trying to compete with the Spring fever in the air. The kids were chatty, they were giggly, and they’re inability to pay attention, while amusing, was just not allowing anything productive to occur. I found myself continuously raising my voice for their attention. At one point, a girl in the back raised her hand. When I called on her she motioned me closer. And then she motioned me closer. When I got near she put her hand on my arm and whispered in my ear,

“You know, Ms. Art Teacher, if you talk in a soft voice, they’ll pay attention.”

I’ll admit, I was a bit taken aback. Maybe a bit is an understatement. I was amazed, and ashamed, that a sixth grader was providing constructive criticism of my classroom management. But she was right, and that was more appalling to me than the fact that it took a sixth grader to make me see the error of my ways.

Speaking calm and softly in the classroom is Teacher Training 101. And in this particular school, I have very rarely found myself raising my voice with the students. In the past. So what was happening? Why was I using my “Oh no, you’re in trouble now” Teacher’s Voice while providing instruction? Well, my list of excuses could go on and on, blaming everything from Mother Nature to pregnancy hormones to end-of-the-year burnout come early. But what it really comes down to, I think, is that I just forgot. Thank you, sixth grade girl, for reminding me what kind of teacher I prefer to be.

Maybe I should pick up one of these signs for my classroom.

6 thoughts on “Speak Softly and They Shall Listen

  1. We all have brain burps:-) We all have to regroup and we have all had our version of your 6th grader to remind us what we should be doing. I use the L sign for Look, Listen and Learn…not Loser, though that could fit at times. Sometimes when I am trying to get my K-2s quiet, I forget my L sign. I'll be doing everything to get their attention, and almost every time some child will put up their L. A duh moment for me. Like magic when I put my L up, the noise slowly stops. It happens to us all.


  2. Your Keep Calm Carry On sign makes me laugh because recently saw a spoof on these signs that say things like “Get Angry and Break Stuff”… Hahaha! Thought that humor was right up your alley- Congrats on the baby news, by the way. Thinking of you!
    Jessica Balsley


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