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Dec 18 / The Teacher Geek

Be a Ninja Hallway Walker

A couple of months ago, I solicited hallway walking tips on Facebook. Finally, here’s that blogpost! Thanks for being so patient, Teacher Geeks.

A few years ago, I ran into a parent in the hallway while my class was on its way to a sp

ecial. My class was (mostly) walking in quiet, straight line. That person made a comment to the effect of “Geez, they’re like little soldiers,” and I don’t think that person meant it as a compliment. I just smiled and nodded and went about my business.

After that, I started questioning myself: Was I being too rigid with my hallway rules? Are they really like little soldiers? Am I taking the “fun” out of learning by having them be quiet in the hallway? OMG, AM I A HORRIBLE TEACHER???

Don’t you hate it when one minor comment can send you down an unnecessary Doom Spiral of Questioning?

A few days later, when that same class was taking a test, another class passed by in the hallway. They were so loud, it really distracted many of my students (and the door was closed!), and I pulled myself out of the Doom Spiral of Questioning when I realized that quiet, orderly hallway is NOT about having students be “little soldiers”. It’s about RESPECT.

  • Respect for other students’ learning.
  • Respect for other classes passing in the hallway.
  • Respect for students’ work on the bulletin boards and walls.
  • Respect for self-control.
  • Respect for our school community.

These are definitely ninja feet.

Here are some ideas that I’ve gathered in the past few years. Not any one method will work all year long, so while January is a good time to review classroom procedures, it is also a good time to introduce new hallway-walking instructions, too. I strongly feel that the ideas listed below will be meaningless unless you have a serious conversation with your class about the respect issues above. If students understand why a rule exists, they are more likely to follow it. Make it a teachable moment. If a noisy class is passing by your room, start by asking, “How many of you found it hard to concentrate a few moments ago? Why?” Another great article on hallway walking is from Angela Watson’s Cornerstone Teaching Blog. She makes more good arguments for quiet and straight-line hallway walking. She’s got a great blog and reading it will make you happy.

So here’s my list. Feel free to add comments at the bottom.

The Do-Over: Stop the walking when it gets too loud. Make the whole class go back to the starting point (or a reasonable nearby point) and announce a “do-over”, and repeat your expectations. Walking starts again, hopefully better this time. Lather, rinse, repeat as often as necessary. If most of the class is complying and you’ve got one or two that are clearly not getting it, just have them do the do-over. I also have them apologize to the rest of the class for making us late. (Oooh! I’m so mean! Making students apologize!) The Do-Over is particularly effective when the students are on their way to something they really enjoy, like recess.

Mystery Walker: I pull out my trusty wooden craft sticks with each child’s name (often kept in my apron), I pull 1, 2, or 3 students’ sticks, but I don’t reveal the names. When we get to our destination, I reveal the names and if those students were good hallway walkers, they get praise (and sometimes a smelly sticker).

Walk Like Ghosts/Ninjas/You’re Invisible: Challenge students to walk as silently as possible. Sometimes I will stop just before an open door and challenge the students to walk so quietly that the other students in the classroom don’t even look up.

Marshmallow Toes: (Thank you, Jaclyn Bajzath, for posting this on my Facebook wall!) Tell students to walk like they’ve got marshmallows on their toes. Students who walk quietly receive a mini-marshmallow on their desks when they return.

Lips-and-Hips: Walk with one hand on your lips (in a “shh” position) and one hand on your hips. It’s a great visual reminder that I’ve seen lower grades use, but I’ve used it for 5th graders, too!

Sing a Song: Mrs. Cooley at the First Graders at Last Blog not only has a list of songs to sing before her class exits to walk the hallway, but she smartly put them on a ring to hang near the door to be able to remember them (now that’s a tip I can relate…uh, what was I saying?)

Other helpful hints:

  • Assigned line spots. Children feel safe knowing who is next to them in line, and you can keep your eye on certain students easily.
  • Walk behind the class. You will be able to see all that goes on, including things like sneaky shoves or good behavior.

What tips to you offer to have a safe, peaceful hallway walking experience? Please comment!



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  1. Katherine Schoville / Dec 18 2011

    I tell my 5th grade class I want a Perfect Ten line, which means 1 line with 0 talking. Works great!

    • The Teacher Geek / Dec 18 2011

      Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Katie / Jan 18 2012

    We were having a lot of noise and running in our hall. K-4 are all in one hallway that has closed doors at both ends so noises echo easily. We decided to unify (and intensify) our expectations. Now any time the students are in the hall, as a class or alone, they walk with their hands folded behind their backs. It has made them a lot more aware of their behavior (volume and staying in their own space). The fact that all the classes are doing it has been wonderful but I think that it could be a good strategy for individual classes too.

    • The Teacher Geek / Jan 18 2012

      I love that unification strategy. Things like that can often bring students a feeling of security, especially when all of the students are doing it. It’s also a very clear visual of where hands are supposed to be.

  3. Allison / Feb 7 2012

    We have our preschoolers pretend they have a bubble in their mouth while walking the hallways – when we get to where we are going, they can let it “pop.” This one has been a favorite for years!
    We also pretend we have binoculars at certain points during our walk to look quietly at the art work on the walls.

    • The Teacher Geek / Feb 7 2012

      LOVE both of those! I’m going to use the binoculars tomorrow, as I noticed many of my neighbor teachers changing bulletin boards this afternoon! Thanks for sharing!

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