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Classroom Management: Solve the Hand-Raising Problem

Janelle Cox

We’ve all had them -- the students that must have superpowers because they can literally hold their hand up for hours if we would let them. Many teachers struggle to get the majority of their students to even raise their hand, then there’s those “other” students who, if you would let them talk all day, they would.

The dilemma is that these “other” students who raise their hands constantly are interpreting our directions and lessons. Instead of wasting all of the energy with their hands in the air, they could be concentrating on what they need to do until they see that the teacher is free. So, what’s a classroom management alternative to this hand-raising issue many of us have? Here we will take a look at a few classroom management ideas that many teachers have found helpful in their classrooms.

  • First and foremost, try the Quantum learning method. Before students can raise their hands they must do three things. 1) Use their brain and ask themselves the question they want to ask the teacher in a way that they can understand it. 2) Use a resource like their books or notes. 3) Ask the people around you. If they have done all three things, then the final thing to do is to ask the teacher.
  • Try a gimmick like putting a red and green cup on their desks or paper that is attached to their desks that they can flip over if they need help or have a question. Red would mean they need attention, and green would mean that they are doing fine.
  • Give students a sticky note when they walk into the classroom and instruct them to write down their questions or comments and hand them to you after class or when you are not talking. Explain to students that their questions and comments are important, but so is not being interrupted during a lesson.
  • Read the children’s book “My Mouth is a Volcano” by Julia Cook. Then discuss with students that blurting out, and asking a lot of questions will not help them learn because their brains need to focus on what you are teaching them.
  • Give students two craft sticks per lesson. Students are only able to use the sticks to ask a question or make a comment, and they must hand you the stick. Once the sticks are gone they are not allowed to ask any more questions for that lesson.
  • At the end of your directions or even the lesson, give students time to talk to their neighbors. This way the students that don’t understand or have questions still can get them answered.
  • Place a red stop sign and a green go sign on the front board. You can even have it so the red sign is taped to the green sign so all that you have to do is flip it over. Before you start talking, make sure that the students see which sign you have up. The red sign means, “Hold all questions and comments” and the green sign means “It’s OK to talk.”
  • Give students little signs that say “I got it” and “I need help.” The students keep these signs at the desks with the appropriate side up. It’s an easy way for the teacher to glance around the classroom and see who needs help.
  • In the beginning of the school year give students a bunch of craft sticks with their names or numbers on them. Students keep these craft sticks in their desks, and if they need to ask a question while you are talking, all they have to do is get up and put it into the jar in the front of the room. If this seems too distracting for you, then have students place their stick on their desk. An easy way for students to place their sticks on their desks in an upright position is by placing a piece of putty in the corner of their desk -- this will help the stick stand up.

As the year goes on, you will find that eventually, the students who always had their hands up will slowly start to put them down. You may still have a few students who love to tell stories that are completely off task, but that’s when you really hammer down your hand signals or gimmicks like the craft sticks or paper cups.

What do you do when your students raise their hands too much in class? Do you have any tricks or tips that you would like to share? Please share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.

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Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for, as well as a contributing writer to and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators