The English Teacher

Maintaining Orderly Study Halls

Those of us who have been assigned study hall duty in addition to our academic classes often find it a challenge to maintain an orderly study hall. The dynamics are different than in the classroom. For instance, in the study hall there is no motivation to attain grades, and many are there unwillingly. Some have been placed there, out of their academic classes for disciplinary reasons. Others are there temporarily due to injuries that prevent them from taking their scheduled classes such as P.E.

The following are guidelines for maintaining an orderly study hall. Of course, they have to be adapted for your school policies and environment. However, other teachers have used these specific guidelines with success.

These Guidelines are not totally in step by step order. They should be read and understood as a whole before being applied.

1. Students don't talk in study hall. [A no talking policy saves much energy from arguing how loud is loud, how quiet is quiet, etc.] If students want to study together, they should ask the teacher first and 'if' the teacher says it is ok, they can study together at the front of the study hall, and when they are finished with their studying, they should return to their assigned seats. [By having the students move from their seats to the front to talk, they are learning not to talk where they are, and you can hear when they are on task when they talk *quietly* at the front of the study hall.]

[Don't hassle the students if they talk during attendance. You take attendance from a chart so it doesn't matter if they talk and it is too much trouble to take attendance with one eye and watch talkers with the other, and then discipline them. They can also talk the last five minutes of the period. They can also pass notes at the 'end' of the period. They should not pass notes during study time as a way to talk by way of written notes.] Note passers earn a place on the front row.

2. Seats are assigned the 'first' day of the semester. They are assigned from the class list. The first row is left unassigned. When the students come in the first day, as attendance is taken from the list, students who chose to sit in the back row of the study hall are marked on the roll. Then the back row students' names are moved from wherever they have been placed on the seating chart to a place on the front row. Then, before other study hall policies are explained, the back row students are moved to their assigned seats on the front row. This procedure eliminates most of the talking problem by the talkative students' self selection. [It would take weeks otherwise, to locate and move all of these students.]

3. Students are not to place their feet on the desks or seats around them or put their knees up on the desk in front of them as the school custodian says that that action pulls the seats' bolts out of place. [Our study hall is held in a lecture room.] Having the students keep their feet off of the other desks is a good idea anyway.

4. I tell the students that if I don't know their names at the end of the quarter, I will give them an unstructured vote. 'Not knowing their names' means that I don't have to learn their names to tell them to be quiet or tell them to work or study or read. [For our high school, if all the teachers vote on their nine weeks report card for a student to be unstructured from study hall, they will be released from study hall for that grading period.]

5. If someone throws something in study hall, simply announce that no one goes anywhere, no passes will be accepted, until the person who threw the object picks it up and puts it in the wastebasket. When the person does pick up the object, just accept their picking it up. It is unlikely that they will do it again.

6. No walking on seats or going over the seats and rows. No food in study halls. Make sure that you are the first one in the study hall in order to check briefly for problems left by previous people.

7. They can go to the locker for work when they run out of something to do and want to get more work. They can also go to the restroom.

8. They can get 10 minute passes to the library but if they go over time twice, as in 17 min.+ then they don't get any more passes to the library from the study hall teacher.

9. Students on the warning list should get a note from the teacher who placed them there before they are allowed to go other places with passes by other teachers on a regular basis.

10. Students earn their way off the front row. As persistent talkers and note passers, etc. need a place on the front row, and there is no place available, the quietest person on the front row is moved back. Sometimes in large, loud, study halls, at the beginning of the year, you might need to reserve the first two rows for talkers.

11. If students persist in talking, send them to the office. See the other files on discipline for tips on how to keep behavior records, etc. Once the study hall is quiet, the rest will stay quiet, newcomers won't talk in the silence, and most will appreciate the chance to study.

12. Students can get passes to the counselor's office.

13. At the beginning of the period, those with hall passes out of study hall place them face down on the teacher's desk. Then they take their assigned seats. They *do not* sit on the front row or stand around the teacher's desk waiting to leave. When attendance is taken, the teacher turns the pile of passes over and notes where the student is going and which teacher wrote the pass in the attendance book. Then the teacher signs the passes in the order in which they were placed on the desk at the beginning of the period. When the students' names are called, they leave their seats and pick up their passes and leave. [This policy avoids the teacher being surrounded and having the view of the study hall blocked by impatient students trying to have their passes signed first.]

Return to: Strategies for Classroom Discipline