Mallory Heimlich

Date Approved


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S.T. Teaching


Teacher Education


College of Education

First Advisor

Lee, Valarie


Classroom management


Elementary Education and Teaching


With instructional time being interrupted by both in and out-of-class disturbances, research shows that approximately 30% of instructional day is wasted. Students are more likely to be unengaged and off-task when the teacher is interrupted than at other times and most classroom interruptions are initiated by the students themselves. The goal of this study was to decrease student interruptions and transition time by implementing a nonverbal signal system as a component of the classroom management plan. Student interruptions were tallied and student transitions were timed during social studies and science in a fourth grade classroom. Reflections of the study were recorded and written student responses from pre-intervention and post-intervention focus groups were collected. Individual student grades before and after the system's implementation were compared. Data analysis showed that nonverbal signals decreased student interruptions and transition time, thus increasing the quantity of instructional time, and more importantly, nonverbal signals minimized the effect of student interruptions that occurred, thus sustaining momentum while teaching. With this system, the teacher addressed the students' needs quickly and quietly with minimal interruption to the classroom. However, further research over a longer period of time is necessary to determine whether the system's effects positively influence student achievement.