All About: Seat signals
Technique 34 suggests seat signals in the classroom. Seat signals are essentially nonverbal actions with a specific meaning that allow for a request to be met without interrupting the class. Seat signals give teachers the opportunity to meet a student’s need without being distracted at the peak of their lesson. All teachers must ensure that when hands go up in their classroom they are a result of an educational based question/answer. Students are notorious for finding ways to “get out” of doing their work. This could come in the form of taking a very long walk to the pencil sharpener or making frequent, unnecessary bathroom breaks. When teachers allow the use of seat signals, students can nonverbally ask to use the bathroom, request a pencil during a lesson, or receive a tissue without interrupting the teacher’s train of thought.
Seat Signals are an example of a teaching strategy that will benefit all ages and all classroom settings. One of the concepts researched and proven effective is having an organized, authoritative classroom. Being authoritative in the classroom means that as a teacher you are one that is warm and loving, but demands respect and is excepting students to follow directions and perform to the best of their ability continuously. Implementing seat signals in the classroom provides an example of someone who believes in the authoritative teaching style; they are constantly reminding the students that although basic needs such as water, getting a tissue, and having a sharp pencil are important, learning is the first priority in the classroom. As an authoritative figure you are demanding their full attention at all times and ensuring that their school work is what they are focusing on.
There are many different seat signals that can be used in the classroom. In my future elementary classroom I would like to implement signals that are easy to remember and perform with any given request. For example, if any student is in need of a pencil during a lecture, activity, or test, they will be asked to simply raise their pencil in the air as a signal that they need a new one. Therefore, I can continue teaching or giving directions as I fulfill this request. Another example would be asking for water or a bathroom break. Hall passes are a great way to display to others in the school that you should only be heading to one specific place, not roaming around the school. I would ask students to hold up two fingers crossed if they need to use the bathroom or get water. If I nod, that will automatically mean that they are to grab a hall pass and return quickly and get back to work, immediately. The book Teach Like a Champion suggests that if you’re in the middle of an important task you can hold up five fingers that means, “Wait five minutes, then you can go.” That shows the students that you recognize their request, but what you’re doing is important and they must finish this task or listen to directions before they go.