Thursday, November 5, 2009

Solutions For Classroom Interruptions

I'm sorry we were so rudely interrupted yesterday during my blog post. I was answering the question, "What can we do about interruptions?" I said that complaining only helps temporarily, if at all. And I said that you just have to accept that you're going to be interrupted and to roll with it.

But are there other options? I think there may be a few.

1. Phone calls during classroom instruction:
  • Check the caller ID. If it's important, answer it. If not, don't.
  • Turn the ringer down, so that it doesn't disturb the students.
  • Don't answer it. Let it go to voice mail or an answering machine.
  • Answer it, tell them you're busy, and that you'll call them back when you have time. You can also leave this as your message on voice mail.
2. Colleagues or students at your door during classroom time:
  • Post a notice on the door "We Are Learning. Please Do Not Disturb."
  • Leave a message box by the door. Non-emergency notes should be placed here. Just remember to hand them out before class is over.
  • Quietly ask them what they need. If it can wait until later, tell them that you'll talk to them about it during lunch or after class or after school.
3. Student disruptions during class:
  • Keep your lessons interesting so that students will be less likely to be distracted.
  • Have rules for students being out of their seats, sharpening pencils, listening to intercoms, etc.
  • Keep extra supplies on hand for students who do not have their books, pencils, or paper.
4. Students leaving the room:
  • Again, keep lessons interesting so that students will not want to leave.
  • Have procedures for students using the restroom, going to the clinic, going to another classroom, going to the library, students arriving early or late, getting drinks, going to assemblies, etc.
5. Fire drills, storm drills, and lock down procedures:
  • Your school should have a plan in place for these kinds of interruptions. Know it and follow it.
6. Noisy interruptions:
  • Ask that intercom announcements be given at the beginning or end of class periods.
  • Let teachers around you know when you are giving a test so that they can be a little more quiet.
  • If you're going to be teaching a noisy lesson, let teachers around you know. They may ask that you do the lesson another day if they're giving a test.
  • If there is noise in the halls, you may be able to ignore it. However, there may be an emergency situation that you will need to handle.
7. After school interruptions when you're trying to finish up the day:
  • Often times other teachers, who never seem to have anything to do, want to take up your time. They may want to talk about lessons or they may just want to complain. Either way, you don't get your work done.
  • You can close your door, but don't do this if there are students in your room.
  • Find another place to work like the lunch room or library.
  • Pack up early and take your work home with you.
  • Pack up early and come in early the next morning.
There will always be interruptions, but if you plan carefully and follow these suggestions, you may be able to keep them to a minimum. They can be a huge source of stress and dissatisfaction if you don't.


  1. I agree with every single piece of advice here. I most certainly have procedures in place so students will get the most out of every class. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

  2. I agree with getting the most out of each class. One way to eliminate delays in finding lesson resources is to use EPEE Software for Teachers. EPEE places everything at your fingertips and just a click away from being projected or printed. You will have the most efficient classroom possible. EPEE organizes all types of files and or links to files by drag and drop. Try it.

  3. To Anonymous: Thanks. I'll take a look at it.