Bliss for 40 minutes if you plonk them in front of a video

So how long can you last? Five minutes? Forty? They were comparing notes on silence in class on The TES online staffroom this week and, frankly, you sound a frustrated lot.

"How long can you teach before being interrupted by shouting out, an incident or a noise?" asked baxterbasics. "A minute? You must be doing seriously well."

The record was held by 2TeachorNot2Teach, who secured 40 minutes of blissful quietude by plonking her charges in front of a video, "in the name of education".

Meanwhile, florench was struggling. "Couldn't even get some of them quiet for exams. Tried waiting for silence - just don't get it. Feeling a failure to say the least."

It is a tricky issue for the novice teacher and tactics range from the kindly to the abrupt. Bellap writes the names of wrongdoers on the board, while Messyhouse commands a group singalong.

Compgirl goes further. "I switch the lights off as this gains their instant attention. I then tell them what to do and switch the lights back on when I've finished." This is too softly, softly for littlebuggers who, asked advice for quietening primary pupils, writes: "Calpol."

But Maths_mike warned against "depriving children of the ability to discuss and share information".

Educational consultant Angela Myers said: "Quite often you want children to talk and learn collaboratively. Even when they are listening to the teacher, the odd comment is useful."

So it seems the trend is away from Confucius ("Silence is the true friend") and towards Alice Walker: "No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow."

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