Submitted by Martha Stanley, Tallahassee, Florida

Idea posted March 14, 2008

I give one warning; the next time you're out. I tell them that every musician has to know when to play and when not to play. The end. (Examples for first warnings are: if you're not paying attention, if your elbow is on the drum, if you deliberately hold the mallets like a snare drummer, if you are obviously not playing the right thing, etc..) The second warning is it. Leave the instrumentarium, put your maracas down, move away from the drum, or put up your recorder.

If it gets to be too much and I can't tell who it is, I do a class consequences system. Since I've started this, things rarely get out of control. If I can't determine who is tooting or clunking, I ask the offender to admit it and tell me. I let the class know that by volunteering that it was you, you will get a warning and it's deserved - BUT - if no one admits it, I will turn over a letter in "toot pockets," so the pressure is ON.

I have four pockets with letters in them on the board. One set says "talk" and one says "toot." I turn over one letter at a time if no one cops to the offense OR if I have had to stop and wait for them to stop talking too many times. If they get them all turned over, I tell them, "You are obviously not interested in learning today. I don't want to fuss at you because I like you, so we'll just quit for the day. I'll walk you back to your class and we'll wait outside silently until your teacher's planning time is over and s/he comes to get you. I don't want to be you when s/he sees you there."

It's great how having a clear procedure with clear consequences makes such a difference. I had to walk back one class last year and one at the beginning of the year this year. Now if I turn over the first "T," calmness returns to rear its beautiful head.

Make it clear to yourself where your line is. Tell the kids and then enforce it. Don't get teary about it... just do it. They are in control of their choices, and you are in control of the consequences.