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100% rule

Qualitative play-based education starts with good classroom organization and management.

Often I visit schools where teachers face challenges with managing their class. Children are not listening to their teacher and have their own conversations and activities. As a result the teacher starts to speak louder and louder, which turns even into shouting.

Unfortunately the shouting doesn’t bring the result the teacher wants. Actually: the children also start shouting to each other, to be able to continue their own conversations…
In this blog I describe how to get attention from all children.

My advice to teachers is use ‘the 100% rule’. In Kinyarwanda ‘ijana kw’ijana’. What does it mean?

It means that you wait talking or to give instructions until you have 100 % attention.
This means attention from all children. 95% or 99% is not enough. Wait also for that last one.

Use a symbol or a sign. For example: Clap your hands two times followed by raising your hand or fist. Tell the children to do the same. When you raise your hand you stop talking and wait for silence.
Young children will not understand what ‘100%’ or ‘ijana kw’ijana’ means. Tell them that you wait for everybody to listen and that you want to hear ‘the silence’. While waiting don’t talk!

When it is silent first check if all children face you. If they are seated in groups they need to turn their body to be able to sit comfortable while listening. Especially when instructions are going to be given. Their eyes, ears and heart are focused on the speaker (teacher or other classmate).

100 % attention:

Everyone is silent.
All bodies are turned towards the speaker.
The focus is on the speaker: with eyes, ears and heart.

After having the 100% attention, start talking with a friendly voice. There is no need for shouting. It is even better to use a soft voice to keep the attention from children and fascinate them.
Play with your voice: use variety. Sometimes a bit slowly then faster, a bit louder to softer. Use also short breaks (a few seconds) to listen if there is still 100 % attention. It will make it interesting for children to listen.

Remember: Always when talking to a group of people use the 100% rule. This rule can be used with children, but also with adults in team meetings.
I have introduced it in many schools and also in teams. When it is applied well, it works amazingly and will bring a big change into a class!

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