Classroom Management Part 6: Voice Levels

In the last few months I’ve added some blogs to my “classroom management” series. They’ve all been strategies I’ve learned either from my coach or my students since I started working at Bricolage. First, I explained what hand signals we use to quickly signal when kiddos need bathroom or water. I love the beauty of quickly nodding to a child or doing a lightening fast silent acknowledgment, and that student knowing they can go take care of what they need. It keeps my class in the TL and on track.

gotta poop

Next, I explained how I have implemented Habits of Discussion, or silent signals to help students communicate with me without blurting out so much… it also scaffolds output for students who tend to wait a while before they start “speaking” but it still lets me learn lots about them. Bitmoji Image Today, thanks to my patrons who voted on me writing this blog, I am talking about voice levels. Y’all, I had NO idea I needed these in my teaching life until I arrived at Bricolage and had my mind blown. Bitmoji Image Voice levels are ONE important piece to giving your students CRYSTAL clear instructions. Believe it or not, you can take care of the MAJORITY of your behavior problems through
  1. SLOWING down (in our classes, I’ve found the #1 reason for students NOT doing what I want them to do is that they aren’t comprehending the input, the best way to get them there is to make sure I am going SLOW enough for them)
  2. Clear instructions! The number one reason students misbehave is actually: INCOMPETENCE- Students do not COMPREHEND the instructions or directions given to them
That is why CRYSTAL clear instructions are so so important along with modeling, to get exactly what you want! When I give an instruction or we move into a transition, brain break, or ANY activity in my class, I indicate a voice level for students. I do this IN the TL after just a few times in English (usually first week it is done in English since I’m in English the majority of my first week anyways and by the second I am in Spanish and so is this part of my instruction). Last year, I had a poster up in my room to remind students of what the voice levels were, but I found that since they’re used ALL over my school my students didn’t need it after a month. If these aren’t used else where in your school consider making a poster. I had the levels illustrated rather than using lots of words.
  • Level 0– SILENT
  • Level 1– Pair work- Your voice is at a level where only the person next to you can hear what you’re saying. Teacher and students can see you’re talking but don’t know what you’re talking about unless we are right next to you
  • Level 2– Group work- Your voice is at a level where the friends and peers around you can hear what you’re saying in a group of 5-6 people. When you raise your hand and speak to the class, this is the level you use
  • Level 3– Presentation voice- (which since my kids never present to the class, I called this OUTSIDE voice) When you’re playing at recess or you’re at a football game cheering on your team, THIS Is the voice you use. It is your power voice. It will RARELY if EVER be used in the classroom (because the LA teacher next door will get me fired…not really… but I make up a white lie like that to make them chuckle…)
I explain that I am at a level two while teaching and sometimes when students are doing group work and I have to call their attention, my voice level gets to a 3. Then we PRACTICE the voice levels a LOT the first week. I have them share their norms at different voice levels. We play different brain breaks at different voice levels, (especially when there is TESTING already next door on the FIRST week… whaaaat!?) ANY time I address students on their transitions IN my class, TO my class, or FROM my class, I comment and narrate on their voice levels “Play RPS at a level 1 with 5 different people, GO!” “We are at a level 1 in the hall”, “WOW! Clase! This sounds like the PERFECT level 1, let’s move to the class at a level 0” “Mieracol, we are at a level 0” (reminding language) “Susie is at a level 1 as she’s working with Pierre” (reinforcing language). Etc. If my expectations aren’t met, we repeat the instruction until they are and I praise praise praise when I get that! ESPECIALLY if they meet those expectations on the first try!
There you have it!  My Familia Loca members: Lacey, Angels and Aamina were hoping I would talk more about TEACHER voice. I do have this blog on that, but I will do another soon on MAINTAINING our most powerful teacher tool (other than the white lie)…. OUR VOICE! Much love to all of you! HAPPY TEACHING! Love, La Maestra Loca


  1. Thank you for making me laugh! You have some great points! I will try to give those brain breaks and slow down. I do want my students to listen and understand content!

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