I don't think there is ever a situation or a classroom where children listen 100% of the time. That would be teacher nirvana. But this year I seem to have more that don't listen than those that do. In years past it seemed to be the other way around. True, I have a group with academic needs more so than most, but the lack of listening has gotten to be a major frustration for me.
I am willing to try about anything. So if you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments. I put 3 things into place this week that helped some. The first is nothing huge. We all do it from time to time. I simply put blanks on the board to spell the word LISTEN and they can earn a letter at each special they go to. When we have spelled the word, I am going to let them have 10 minutes extra recess. At each special this week the behavior has improved - greatly. At least the specials teachers are no longer complaining when I pick them up.
Step two - I draw 2 students names from my popsicle sticks and they are my "magic" for the day. I don't tell them who they are - so no one knows if it is them. At the end of the day, if the "magic" students have been really good listeners, they go to the office treasure box. Almost every day, I have been able to send at least one of the two. Throughout the day I will stop and look around as if I am looking for someone and say something like, "Oh there is my magic and what a great job they are doing listening!" Everyone shapes up fast without me having to fuss.
I used exit tickets some in my reading room last year. This week we started with them again only with a bit of difference. Rather than using one at the end of each subject, I wrote down one question from every subject we had that day and then at the end of the day I gave them all the exit questions (about 5 of them) before we went out for recess. Rather than have consequences for wrong questions, I am keeping up with the number of correct questions they have and then the person who has the most at the end of each month will get a prize. To wrap up each lesson they started "helping" me by suggesting what the question should be! I liked that.
None of these ideas are anything huge, but I am hoping that something or perhaps a combination of somethings will work to improve those listening skills. Any ideas?