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The Beauty of a Whisper and a Tune

I tell my students that whispering is one of the secrets we learn in teaching school.

It is such a beautiful thing.

I am not a proponent of a silent classroom. But there are times when you need quiet to give a direction or redirect and return to focus.

When the class needs quieting or calming, try this: stand near a group of students and whisper something important, something interesting, something silly, or a quick instruction.

You may need to move to another spot in the room and whisper again or add something. Students tend to quiet themselves to hear you. Or they may notice that other students are starting a task or putting their hands in the air or acting on whatever direction you gave quietly.

It’s counter-intuitive, and it works.

Speak under them instead of over them. Quiet yourself, and spread the calm.

Jazz, Classical, Yo-Yo Ma

Another sure-fire way to set a tone, calm a mood, create a space: music.

I have favorites:

  • Bach Cello Suites
  • John Coltrane- Blue Train
  • Duke Ellington and John Coltrane
  • Miles Davis- Kind of Blue
  • Charlie Hunter Quartet – Natty Dread
  • Charlie Hunter Trio
  • Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin – Hush (for silly times, track 7 in particular)
  • Ocean, Jungle or Bamboo Forest Sounds (“Calm” app-free for teachers)

I could go on- and would be happy to if anyone would like.

It’s not rocket science, yet music is an effective tool within all of our reach.

You can discuss genre, ask students to choose, discuss matching mood or activity with particular music. It’s a spot to guide, and yet another spot for student choice.

Many of my classrooms have had some sort of system to play music through. My most dependable device to play music:

That’s it- a whisper and a tune.

Pertinent Research

The Power of a Teacher’s Voice- and Its Variation

Related and Interesting: The Process of Teaching Students about Your Voice and Tone

Edutopia on Quieting a Rambunctious Group– Yes, whispering AND music make their list!

Article from “Science and Literacy” on the Power and Possibilities of Music in the Classroom

A Teacher’s Support and Guide for Music in the Classroom

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