And then on Monday, I revisited my own classroom behaviour plan.
Although some expectations in room 16 are fairly concrete (for example, we have a "Class Norms for Group Discussion" chart posted at the front of the room, and I regularly refer to it when teaching), other "rules" are somewhat nebulous. Does "mutual respect", for example, just refer to not making rude comments to one another, or does it also encompass things like listening attentively when someone else is sharing a math solution (and what happens if you are not listening attentively?)
So, on Monday, I instituted a consistency plan for classroom rules and behaviour in our room. It has been in effect for only three days, and I am already seeing a dramatic improvement in behaviour in general, which appears to be having a positive effect on the "debrief" section of my math lessons specifically.
Everyone knows the rules, because we revisited them together on Monday morning, and I posted them in a prominent spot in my classroom. Students are given a warning, a time-out and a think paper, progressively, for breaking rules. So, they in essence get three chances before the boom is lowered.
"Warnings" are simply names written down on a board, without anger or frustration on my part, very business-like, and then back to teaching in order to minimize disruption. (I should interject here and note that in general, I don't like to "publicly humiliate" students by posting their names, but it is a visual reminder that they have a warning, and it works. AND, I am pretty sure that have enough money in the emotional bank accounts of most students in my class that they know I still like them, I just don't like their behaviour.)
Rather than blurting out or chatting with peers off-topic, students face the front, with eyes on their peer who is sharing. Although this may not necessarily indicate that they are actually paying attention to the math, at least it allows those who are trying to actively listen to do so without being interrupted by the uninvited call-outs of others in the classroom. It also allows the student(s) presenting to share their solutions in a stress-free manner, without pressure, and invite others to ask questions when they are ready, rather than having their thinking constantly interrupted by others who were previously off task (or my negative reaction to those others).
These observations of mine are only cursory. I want also to practise having students paraphrase one another and ask "digging" questions to delve deeper into the math. But it is definitely a step in the right direction!