How to Manage Blurting and Talking Out in the Classroom

Unsolicited yammering. Intentional interrupting. Blurt blasting. You’re tired, you’re disheartened, you’re a teacher who is ready to crack the code and decipher the why and what to do about speaking out.

First, please know that you are not alone. Incessant interrupting has the power to throw off even the most seasoned educators amongst us.

Let’s use the acronym B.L.U.R.T to help us navigate this gong show.


Assessing the Room


Regulate yourself. Release the inner dialogue that doesn’t serve you that tells you: “This is a power struggle and the only way I win is if I speak louder or rule with authority.” Even if raising your voice or throwing out shame-inducing guilt works temporarily, it is not a long-term solution, nor an investment in relationship-building and effective classroom management.


In the same vein, it's time to accept that the ideal of a silenced classroom is an archaic. Think about it- our students are developmentally and genetically wired to be curious and it's in their instincts to communicate and connect. The goal is not to silence all the time, but to support productive conversation at appropriate times.

Look & Listen

Observation can be the most powerful tool we have to assess the type of disruption.

Is it a single student? A small group? The entire class? Are they speaking out to try and get your attention? The attention of others? When in heart-centered roles like teaching, it’s so easy to be sensitive to every remark or action and to take them personally- it’s communicative NOT manipulative.

Understand Needs

Are they overstimulated?

Are they understimulated? 

Have you given meaningful opportunities to talk? 

Is there unresolved conflict amongst students?

Have they just reached their capacity to focus any longer on the topic?

Does a student need some connection or coping skills?


Stay curious. Here are questions that we can ask ourselves to help inform our practice and to reassure our tender souls that the behavior is not a slight on who we are:


Respond to Needs

 If it’s a single student or small group, we need to think about whether their connection-seeking behavior indicates the need for mindful breathing, a check-in, movement break, or restorative practice from recess, or other transitions. OR, consider the fact that it may not be a problem within the class, but a problem within our format or execution of our lesson. Keeping emotions out of the mix, remember this: it is not that your lesson is bad or that your execution is weak. It just means that it is not right for the target audience at that specific time.

Try Again

Assess the room and then assess your own practice. 

Talk less

Check In

Channel chatter that matters into more productive, frequent, assigned periods (e.g., this could look like free talk for 5 minutes before a lesson or independent work) 

Let the talkers shine by leading discussions or lessons

Schedule brain breaks

Survey your students to see when they feel most unfocused or ready to chat

Ensure you have effective attention getters

Review what blurting looks, sounds & feels like

Incorporate noise level posters as a helpful visual


Action Plan

Back to Basics

If you're looking to circle back and start with a review lesson on what blurting looks, sounds and feels like, or a system to help reinforce these expectations, this set of Blurt Bunny tools might be helpful to incorporate into your program to celebrate on-task, Respectful Rabbit communication.


How to Stop Blurting in the Classroom


Schedule Blurts

Just as we ensure we give test-and-try time with manipulatives before expecting them to use them as tools, we should do the same with talking breaks. Give your students 5 minutes to connect organically before beginning a lesson. You can even offer games such as Taboo or Don't Say It as part of your indoor recess or early finisher activities to help them control verbal impulses in a fun way.

Assign Actions

Thought bubble no blurting strategy

Visuals are critical when supporting blurts, so as not to interrupt the flow of the lesson. Model using the "thought bubble" with your students- make a fist and raise it above your head to demonstrate to your students when the time is more appropriate for a thought bubble, than a speech bubble.

Alternatively, you can grow a blurt bloom, by having students raise their fist into the sky and then slowly and silently raise and spread their fingers into a raised hand. Assigning an action to an impulse is important- physical involvement in learning can enhance comprehension and retention, as it activates different parts of the brain and reinforces learning through kinesthetic memory.

What blurt-busting strategy has worked in the past for your children?
Let me know in the comments below!
Lots of love,
Namaste in School


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