Talk Time – Quiet Work Time – Achieving a Balance!

Setting expectations based on facts provides students with real reasons to work quietly!


The class is noisy; your head is banging, that class noise meter you thought would work miracles only works for a short time.

You call out, ‘I told you to be quiet, please stop talking.’

Frustration builds, now what?

Is there a place for quiet working time?

It is really important that we give our students time to discuss and share ideas together as a class group, in smaller groups and partner work.

Once an independent task has been set it is important to allow some discussion time. However, if you do a roving observation you may find that the discussions continue and they have nothing to do with the task and some people haven’t started. So there are times when it is important to have ‘quiet work’ time.

This allows students to fully focus on the task at hand.

Try This:

Do a survey of your students at the start of the session and you will find that many of them like to work in a quiet room while others prefer a bit of chatter happening.

We need to cater for both types of workers. Ask for a quick ‘hands up’ – Who likes to work with some noise, who likes to work when there is quiet?

You will always get responses from students who prefer both work environment options.

This provides you with a ‘real reason’ to have quiet work time and makes it ‘fair’ for everyone.   All needs/learning styles are being catered for.

Ok everyone we had time for the people who like some noise as they work; now we are catering for those people who like it quiet. Things have to be fair and equal for everyone. We are starting now!

If someone speaks during quiet working time have a ready prepared note to show them that says ‘It is quiet work time now, Thank you.’

Have a 'Quiet Work Time poster ready to use when required.

Have a ‘Quiet Work Time’ poster ready to use when required.

Walk up immediately to the student who has spoken, even if it was only a whisper and display the note to them.

They get it straight away and often apologise for speaking. It is important that if you must speak it is done very quietly and only to individuals.

Continue to display the note to any students who speak. You may have to show the note to a few students. That’s ok.

Each time you request ‘It’s quiet work time’ for any session remind the students why – you are catering for everyone’s learning needs.

When you have quiet work time you will notice a marked increase in the amount of work students produce.

A handwritten note.

A handwritten note.



How long does quiet work time last? As long as you want it too!