Strong Voice

Do Not Talk Over

If what is being said is worthy of attention, ensure every listener can hear it

When you need your students’ full attention, it won’t do to talk over side conversations or the grinding of the pencil sharpener. In order to maximize student learning, students need to be able to hear your instruction. In this training, you’ll learn about the Strong Voice principle Do Not Talk Over and how to maximize its impact on student attention in your classroom.

When you need students' full attention, wait to speak until there is no other talking, and you're not competing with the rustling of papers.

If you've already started talking and other chatter or noises prove distracting, try pausing briefly mid-statement. We call this Do Not Talk Over move a "self-interrupt," and it’s the quickest way to remind students that the content of your class is important.

To strengthen your self-interrupt, adopt a symmetrical stance, and hold still. Hold the pause in your speech for one or two seconds to signal that what you’re about to say is of the utmost importance. Bonus: try raising your eyebrows.

Finally, when you do begin speaking again, speak quieter, slower, evenly, and at a slightly lower pitch.

See It In Action

Hear Erica Woolway, Chief Academic Officer at Teach Like a Champion, share her analysis of Do Not Talk Over in Laura Fern's first-grade classroom. As you watch, count the length of Laura’s pause, and notice the changes in her body language and speech.

Practice

Now you’ll have the opportunity to practice Strong Voice Do Not Talk Over by recording five videos. This practice is iterative. In other words, each round will focus on a very specific element of the technique, and the rounds will increase in complexity as you apply the skill in each setting. To get the most out of the practice, stand up in front of your camera, like you would when you're teaching.

Scenario: As you say to students, “Yesterday, we discussed the process of evaporation,” you realize that a few students have become chatty. Practice using your self-interrupt to regain their attention.

Round 1

The first time you practice, just focus on self-interrupting. Doug is going to self-interrupt on the word "evaporation," as though that's the moment he started hearing student chatter. We'll ask you to use the same moment.

Watch him try it first:

Just try it out: Self-interrupt on the word "evaporation."

“Yesterday, we discussed the process of evaporation.”

Click "Record" when you're ready, and feel free to re-record until you're satisfied.

Round 2

Below, watch Doug's modeling video once again. Notice how Doug's self-interrupt comes in the middle of the word "evaporation" rather than at the end. If he paused at the end of the word, students might think he had lost his train of thought. Self-interrupting mid-word makes it clear that he's pausing in response to student behavior.

Practice the same scenario again. This time, be sure to self-interrupt in the middle of the word "evaporation."

“Yesterday, we discussed the process of evaporation.”

Round 3

Now you'll practice with the same sentence and the same pattern of self-interruption, only you'll focus on adopting still, symmetrical posture when you self-interrupt.

Watch Doug try it first.

Again, self-interrupt mid-word on "evaporation," only this time, adopt a still, symmetrical posture when you self-interrupt.

“Yesterday, we discussed the process of evaporation.”

Round 4

For your fourth round of practice, use the same sentence and self-interruption pattern; adopt a still, symmetrical posture as you self-interrupt; and speak quieter, slower, even, and lower following the self-interrupt.

Watch Doug try it first.

In addition to self-interrupting mid-word and adopting a still, symmetrical posture, speak quieter, slower, even, and lower following your self-interrupt.

“Yesterday, we discussed the process of evaporation.”

Final Round

Sometimes, students won't respond after your first self-interrupt, so you'll want to do what we call a "double self-interrupt."

For your fifth and final round of practice, you'll apply everything you've already learned, plus you'll double self-interrupt. You'll also change the setting.

Scenario: You're preparing for an end-of-class transition. As you begin to give directions, you notice some chatter. Practice your double self-interrupt on the phrase, "When I say go, I want you to stand up, push in your chair, and line up by the door. Thank you."

Watch Doug try it first.

Try a double self-interrupt.

"When I say go, I want you to stand up, push in your chair, and line up by the door. Thank you."

After you record, play back your video. Notice what aspects of your practice you want to replicate, and what you want to change.

Closing

Congratulations! You've completed this training on Do Not Talk Over.

Below, watch all five videos from your practice. As you watch, look for the following key execution points:

  • Round 1: Self-interrupt
  • Round 2: Self-interrupt mid-word on "evaporation"
  • Round 3: Adopt a still, symmetrical posture as you self-interrupt
  • Round 4: Speak quieter, slower, even, and lower following your self-interrupt
  • Final Round: Double self-interrupt

Then, click the button below to share your final video practice.