How many times are you at the front of the room teaching and ask the students a question and you’re looking for an answer. You call on the first student who raises their hand and he asks to go to the bathroom. The next student has a comment to add about something that happened to a family member. Another student gets up to sharper her pencil. Finally, you pick that student who ALWAYS has the answer just so you can move on.
I started using this hand sign method (not to be confused with sign language) when I was in my first year teaching. I soon realized I needed a strategy to identify what students wanted when they raised their hands. Searching the Internet, I found this idea, which I modified a bit to fit the needs in my classroom.
I created these posters and placed them in the front of my classroom for the students to see. I probably should have also put them in the back so I could learn them because for the first few days, I found myself referring to them too. Each hand sign refers to a letter of the alphabet – a for answer, b for bathroom, c for comment, d for drink, q for question, and p for pencil. This is how it works.
Let’s refer back to that scenario I mentioned earlier. I ask a question and expect an answer. Students raise their hands. I can scan through their hands and I can see those who are raising their hand to add a comment, a few students who have the answer, two students with questions, and one that needs to use the bathroom. I can easily skip some of those students for a minute and focus on the ones with the questions, since I want to make sure they understand what is being asked. Now, the questions are answered and I look over to the boy with his hand up to use the bathroom. I can shake my head yes or no (since he knows that I know what he wants) or hold up my finger to let him know he can go in a minute. No time wasted and I can still move on to students with answers without anyone even saying a word. I find a student who provides the correct answer. If I want, I can choose a student or two to add a comment, or I could just let them know that I’ll save comments for the end of the lesson.
Easy, right? This really worked well with me since in my first year I had problems with pacing and lessons taking longer than expected. During a future observation, my principal commented on how much that strategy really worked for me and she was so impressed by how nicely it was implemented.
Are you interested in trying this in your class? You’re in luck! I’m offering my Shhh… Classroom Management with Sign Language posters for FREE in my TpT store!