Behaviour Support for Schools
Beacon School Support
Behaviour Support for Schools
Behaviour article

How to cut down on calling out:

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We've all been there. You have asked a pertinent question and the whole class are concentrating on formulating their responses........when someone calls out their answer and everyone else instantly switches off from thinking about the question.


So let's take a look at what can be done to cut down on those pesky interruptions to your class's learning process.

What causes calling out?

In every school across the land, there are children who are bursting to tell you their answers, oblivious to the fact that there are 29 other pupils in the class who are also (hopefully) thinking about the answer too.

Whilst we don't want to squash their enthusiasm, we do need to keep order and deliver the lesson - this means keeping interruptions down to a minimum.

We know that the number one strategy for eliminating unwanted classroom behaviours is to tactically ignore them, but we MUST also seek to praise others who are doing the right thing.

(Tactical ignoring is a strategy that is always used in partnership with another strategy; using tactical ignoring by itself is just ignoring the problem.)

To read more about why this works, check out our 'Guide to Managing Attention Seeking Behaviours'.

How to tackle it

  • Before you start talking, remind the class that they will need to listen, without interruption for two minutes.
  • Use a visual reminder such as a 'Lips closed' sign.
  • Deploy Post-It notes or mini-white boards for those who HAVE to express their answers!
  • Keep what you say brief and interesting.
  • Provide plenty of other opportunities for pupils to speak - e.g. talk partners.
  • Remember to frequently acknowledge children who put hands up / thumbs up and wait their turn, issue 'polite points'.
  • Do not give attention to pupils who call out. EVER. (Even if they give a really good answer!)

Over time, pupils will learn that you will award attention to the pupils who follow the classroom rules and put their hand up and wait - rather than give it to those who shout out instead.

Staff meeting activity

This activity will take approximately 10 minutes and will enable your staff to generate their own ideas about how to tackle calling out in your school.


You will need the following materials:

  • A3 paper
  • Pens
  • Copies of page 1 of this newsletter
  • Access to the internet / the facility to show this month’s Beacon video (optional)


After watching the short video that accompanies this newsletter, ask staff to work in small groups of three or four to brainstorm ideas for reducing calling out

  • Ask half of the groups to focus on 'Prevention' e.g. ideas to pre-empt calling out before it happens, such as building in other 'talking time' opportunities, using non verbal reminders, other adults modelling politeness (not talking over one another) etc.
  • Ask the other half of the groups to work on 'Cure' e.g. what can be done when a child calls out, to prevent it from happening again, this may include ignoring and praising others, having a quiet talk with the pupil 1-1 at a later time.
  • Take feedback / share ideas from both groups.

It can also be useful to have a whole school focus on politeness for a couple of weeks at a time, where key ideas are launched through assemblies and all staff follow up with 'catching them being good', i.e. looking for times when children are getting it right.

Remember to put up copies of the first page of the newsletter on display in the staffroom, so staff members can refer to it at a later date.

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