I'm currently in a little pickle trying to get my class to calm down and listen to my instructions. But it seems like the only way I can get their attention is raising my voice (not yelling but projecting). I'm trying to figure out how to get them to stop what they're doing and follow directions. I tried a silly horn, a song, a phrase, the lights off, the lights flickering, time transitions, and nothing is working. Mind you I have 20 preschoolers.
It sounds like you have tried a lot of things, visually and auditory! Do have a visual schedule posted so the children will know what comes next after transitioning? It also helps to give a warning before it is time to transition. You can use a timer and tell the class it will go off in 5 minutes. Children do not like to stop what they are doing, especially if they are having fun. Make sure your daily schedule allows for enough choice time. There is no easy answer, it will always be challenging with 20 preschoolers. Keep trying, I hope you will find something that works. If you do. please share it, most of us are experiencing the same thing.
I enjoyed your post, we use a timer as well as expectations, usually works well. I find when children are excited about a certain event or a new activity that is added to a center, it causes chaos, everyone wants to be first to go in center, have to do reminder of how many can go in at a time, and that we will all get a turn. We set up a waiting list and children sign in so, they will know when its their turn to go in area.
It is important to establish trusting relationships. One of the strategies I use to support the teachers is by giving them visuals of expectations. We have expectations instead of rules. We set these expectations in the beginning of the year and go over them daily. The four expectations we use is to be kind, friendly, respectful, and safe. For example, you would state, you are respectful when you listen to the teacher. Then you give them a positive descriptive acknowledgement, also known as PDA's for children following those expectations. https://challengingbehavior.org/ I have provided you with a resource to support you with the preschoolers in your class. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
20 alone or with an assistant?
It sounds like you need to go back to basics for a few days and practice routines and expectations. I have a desk bell (like the old timey hotel lobby bells) that I ring and my class freezes, looks and listens. Whenever we have new students join the class, we show and practice this. Whenever I ring it, my assistants work the room and guide any who need help to follow the expectation.
Silly and tricking things usually do not work. Just explain, short and sweet and to the point and practice.
I never begin circle until the group is settled. If activities are missed, that is a natural consequence. However, pointing who is ready and what they are doing to be ready often helps as well as showing them this is how we sit.
During our work time while I am giving lessons, my assistants work the rooms stopping any undesired behavior and guiding to what we want them to do. The more they are working with their hands, the more they settle in.
Any who are repeatedly acting out, I have come sit or walk with me and have them watch what I am doing quietly for a while then show them a work to do.
Also, you may need to speak to parents about bedtimes, good balanced breakfasts and such.
Rearranging your room may help, too. When it is more than a couple having difficulty, look at if the works are drawing them to be busy or if they are just playing and running around. Move furniture, take things away and put out new things, give a couple of group lessons on things everyone is ready to do and send off to work with a destination (Are you going to work on a carpet or table? Are you going to choose a science work or counting work?).
Get outside as much as possible. In addition to recess, we often work outside.
I suggest you consider and discuss with a trusted peer these things: 1. How many tranisitions do you have in the day (are there too many?), 2. How long are the periods of time children can play freely and uninterrupted (do they have enough time to feel satisfied with whatever they were doing before they need to move to something else?). For me, fun and consistency were the motivators. For every transition, I had a different song or action that they got to know. So when they heard a certain song (clean up song for example) or saw a certain action (lights flickering), they knew what came next. But I further motivated them by insuring that the activity they were going TO was something they didn't want to miss. For example, you can begin circle time with a puppet doing the talking. So the children that don't come because of the song might just come once the puppet starts talking. One atypically loud day, I sang the song and then in circle, I started a pattern (rhythm) of tapping and clapping. Tapping the floor in front of me with both hands like a drum, I did different patterns of tapping (without words) and the children followed along. Eventually all the children came to circle. For example, I might start with tap, tap, clap. Tap, tap, clap. Tap, tap, clap. and when enough children "got it" and are doing it, change to tap, clap, clap. Tap, clap, clap, and they would follow along, some changing their pattern to match later than others. It is a movement and music activity that helps them learn about rhythm and beats (and so many other things). Classroom helpers were great to have also because the child who had selected that job always stayed behind helping with clean up (or even cleaning up after children that aren't particular about how they put things away). Some food for thought! Good luck!
I understand we have a class of 13, however when they are loud, I get loud this works for me. Once that happen the class becomes quiet. I ask one of the students to repeat the classroom rules. If he /she cannot then I would. Then I would ask the class if everyone had their listen ear open and if their eye and mind were paying attention to me. If the answer is no, then I would have a conversation with children about the rules. In this conversation I would talk about respect, disrespect, obedience, and disobedience. Although it took time to get the class to use their ears for listening, we got there,