I teach two year 3 recorder classes (children aged 7) on a Friday afternoon just before home time. So, in come twenty children at a time, armed with various recorders in brown, blue and sparkly pink. They are all dead keen to blow them, but have NO powers of concentration left, straight after PE, near the end of a busy day, after a long hard week of school.
They suck their recorders like sticks of rock, which is annoying, but at least it is silent. Then they blow on their recorders… and they don’t realise that they are tootling. It just happens.
I start gently; sort of like a summer breeze. “Put your recorders down please and watch me for a moment while I show you what we are going to do.”
It doesn’t take long before I’m up to storm force 8: “TAKE your recorder OUT of your mouth and STOP blowing it.”
Over the year I will try everything;
sanctions “We will all do 10 seconds silence every time I hear a tootle”
warnings “If you tootle I will take your recorder away”
confiscations “GIVE me that recorder NOW”
In the end, I have found that the most effective way of dealing with the interruptions and the frustrations has been to just STOP. When the chatting starts, or if I hear
a tootle, I slump against the whiteboard, mid word, as though I have suddenly fallen asleep. It only takes a second before the noise ceases, at which point I come back to life again and carry one exactly where I left off.
After a week or so, all I have to do is begin to sag and let my eyelids droop, and I will hear someone say “Shh, Shh, she’s falling asleep again”, and the class will fall silent.
Then I merely smile brightly, pull myself together and continue. Perhaps I shouldn’t do the nice bright smile. I checked that in the mirror; maybe it is a weeny bit scary. I think it could possibly be something about all those teeth.