Friday, September 08, 2017

Quieting a Class the Montessori Way

We have all been there. All of a sudden, the noise level in the classroom gets so loud, you wonder how anyone can possibly concentrate. Normally, it just takes a quick walk over to the ‘noisy table’ and a quiet word to help the students settle back down. Now, however, it seems like the whole class is noisy. What can you do?

My favorite way to quiet and bring calm back to a disruptive environment is to not do anything at all. I don’t mean I ignore the situation; I meant that I allow my own calm presence to set the tone. I started doing this as a public high school teacher over 20 years ago. I had a particularly boisterous twelfth-grade literature class right after lunch that really had trouble coming in and settling down. Instead of getting mad or angry, I would calmly pick up my book, sit down at my desk, and start reading. After a few minutes, the students would realize that I wasn’t trying to get their attention, and they would all start to quiet down. It worked like a charm! It kept me calm, and the students learned to self-regulate their behavior.

This same technique may be applied in the Montessori environment.

Find a chair in a conspicuous space and sit quietly. Don’t frown or smile: Just sit. If a child comes to you with a question, smile and signal to him that you aren’t answering questions right then. Continue to sit, without talking. Soon enough, the children will sense that something is amiss, and they will regulate the noise level without your intervention. When it does quiet down, you may quietly say, “Thank you.” And leave it at that. No need to lecture or say anything else. Stand up for your chair, and carry on about your day.
If you need a quicker, but just as respectful, method to restore calm, try flicking the lights once.

Avoid flicking them multiple times as this can be distracting and may cause more disruption.

I’ve also used a small handheld chime to get the children’s attention. I ring it softly, one time. The chime doesn’t have to be loud or rung multiple times. It simply acts as a subtle reminder to use inside voices. I had a friend who used a Tibetan singing bowl as a chime. It had a lovely sound and was esthetically pleasing to the eye as well. Another colleague used a rainstick, turned over just one time, to gently remind students to calm their bodies and their voices.

Because the goal is to bring calm and quiet to the environment, avoid using a method that adds to the noise level. Loud cow bells or whistles are not helpful for calming a classroom. Neither is ringing a bell multiple times.

Another method that is popular in conventional settings is the “call and response” technique. Call and response can range from things like clapping a pattern and having students clap it in response, to simple chants. While this technique is meant to get the children’s attention, it can be disruptive. Imagine you are deeply engrossed and focused on your work, oblivious to the noise around you. All of a sudden, you hear the signal to stop what you are doing and clap a pattern. Now you’ve lost your train of thought and must work at getting your attention back on your project.

When choosing a strategy to calm the environment, we have to think about everyone in the class. We have to find a method that is courteous and that does not reinforce the behavior we wish to diminish.

Do you have an effective method of your own for calming the classroom? If so, we would love to learn about it. Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Michelle Irinyi — NAMC Tutor & Graduate

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, September 8, 2017.


  1. great advice, our guide has been looking for a silverbell to quiet the classroom, so good to read your experience and details how to use the bell or other methods, cannot wait to try them. thanks, lili


Have questions or comments? Let us know what you thought about this article!

We appreciate feedback and love to discuss with our readers further.

NAMC Blog Inquiries Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Search the NAMC Montessori Teacher Training Blog

Are you interested in reading back through NAMC's blog articles from years gone by, or for more information on a specific topic?

Browse a select list of our most popular categories below; by clicking on one, you will see every article posted under that topic since 2007. You may also use the lower archive menu to select a year and month, displaying all blog posts in the chosen time frame.

If you are seeking a range of information on a certain topic or idea, try this search box for site-wide keyword results.

Choose From a List of Popular Article Topics

NAMC Montessori Series

Montessori Philosophy and Methodology

Montessori Classroom Management

The School Year

Montessori Materials

Montessori Curriculum

Montessori Infant/Toddler (0–3) Program

Montessori Early Childhood (3–6) Program

Montessori Elementary (6–12) Programs

What is Montessori?

Search Archives for Montessori Blog Posts by Date

Thank you to the NAMC Montessori community!

This year marks NAMC’s 20th anniversary of providing quality Montessori distance training and curriculum development to Montessorians around the globe. Since we began in 1996, we have grown to build a fantastic community of students, graduates, and schools in over 120 countries. We are grateful for your continued support and dedication to furthering the reach and success of the Montessori method. Thank you for sharing this amazing milestone with us!