You Oughta Know About: Minimizing Interruptions from Students During Small Group Instructional Time

Ahoy, my fellow blogging friends! I am SO excited again to link up with Jasmine McClain from Buzzing with Mrs. McClain for this month's You Ougta Know About . . .


This month, I wanted to share with you some awesome management tips I learned during my Project G.L.A.D training about 4 years ago on: "How to Stop Students from Interrupting you When You are Pulling a Small Group or Providing One-on-One Instruction." Since then, I have been using it every time I am teaching small group or one-on-one instruction with a group of students & it has been a TOTAL LIFESAVER!

Above is a picture of my kidney table where I meet students for small group instruction. Notice how I have some student numbered cards and a sign on the left side of the table.

Some Materials You Will Need:
  • a chart stand (I blogged about how I made this on this post)
  • a sign with all your small group instruction rules
  • cards with each student's numbers 
Step 1:
You will need a stand to hold up your sign. I am using one that I made out of PVC pipes. I hang all sorts of mini anchor charts in this chart holder, but I always have my small group instruction rules sign when I am working with a group of students or providing one-on-one instruction.

Step 2:
Create your sign and your rules. I was told that too many rules confuse kids. So the most you would want is a total of 3 rules. Here is what the sign I made looks like:
I made sure that the first rule I had was that students HAD to re-read the questions or the directions of their independent work. A lot of times, I have found from experience, that students ask me questions because they don't read the directions on each page or the questions correctly. 

Next, if that still didn't help them, then they need to ask 3 students before they ask me. I always assign a "captain" (usually a challenge student that can handle independent work in all subject areas) for each table that is in charge of their classmates. They are also allowed to ask captains from other tables in case their own table captain is not sure how to answer their classmate's question themselves.

 Step 3:
FINALLY . . . if students still need additional help, then they bring me their number cards.

Students place the cards by the small group rules sign from left to right so that I know which student came for help first. (I got mine from Hope King from Second Grade Shenanigan's "Gone Coastal" classroom decor).

My students wait for me to call on their number to see me. When my small group works on something, I take that opportunity and window of time to call on students that have additional questions. Most of the time students figure out the answers after thinking for a longer time and often just want me to see if they did do their problems correctly. 

Step 4:
 Model, model, model!!! During the first few days of school, my students are constantly modeling and practicing the classroom rules and routines with me. They ALL participate so that the routine and rule has been instilled in their brains. And IF for any reason, my students interrupt me because they have forgotten our classroom rules, then I simply point to the sign without saying a word while I am still providing small group or one-on-one instruction.

 Of course, students also know that if there is a case of emergency, then they can interrupt me. We have made charts earlier in the year discussing what would be considered an emergency that needs immediate attention from their teacher & what it would possibly look like.

I hope you will find this strategy helpful & as useful as it has been for me! 


  1. Love your system!!! Plus you made it so adorable! Minimizing interruptions is so important! I love how you included the model part, too!!!! Great post!
    Lori :)
    Mixing it up in Middle

  2. Replies
    1. Debbie,
      When I learned about this system in my training, I always wondered why I wasn't taught it earlier. It has saved SO much of my "talk time".

  3. Love these ideas! Having the opportunity to work with small groups is the key to differentiating instruction and giving all kids what they need.

    The Math Maniac

    1. I completely agree, Tara! And I feel like we get to know our kids so much better when we provide that for them.

  4. Replies
    1. You're welcome, Erin! Have a wonderful rest of your Sunday and rest of the week! =)

  5. Love, love, love this idea! I am really intrigued by the chart stand. I love that it has the rules about asking the teacher a question. The number cards are similar to something that I use when I am doing small group as well. I have a center monitor who acts as the "mini teacher" while I am working in small group. If a student has a question, they give their card to the center monitor. Such a great idea! Thanks for sharing :-)

    Buzzing With Mrs. McClain

    1. Thanks, Jasmine! If you go to Home Depot and tell them that you are a teacher, they totally help you. I have been to 2 different Home Depots and all the workers there are SUPER nice and helpful. I like your idea of having a "mini teacher" and giving the cards to them too. *Hugs* =)

  6. I love all of this! What a cute sign, too! I need one of those cute sing holder things!

    1. Thank you! It's easy to make and I urge you to go to pinterest where I found how to make it. It is life changing!

  7. I love the chart stand. I may just be heading over to Home Depot tomorrow! :)

    Friendly Froggies

    1. Thanks, Susan! Don't forget to tell them you are a teacher. They are super nice and helpful to educators. Let me know how it goes =)

  8. What a cute sign! I may have to borrow your ideas!
    P.S. You totally should get a chorkie... best dogs ever :-)

    Learning with Lizz R.

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I always look up info about puppies as I never had one growing up (my mom is highly allergic to A LOT of things, especially all things furry). I can't wait when I get the chance to add a doggie to my life. =)