Ever had a class load of students who needed help, all at the same time? Or students who want privacy, but your room has no nooks and crannies? It can be frustrating and difficult to reach them. (Insert my suggestion that you have classroom volunteers to help you!)
To overcome the waving hands, try the plastic cup system (plastic because they hold up best). Give each child a red plastic cup to be kept inside their desk. That cup can be set on their desk top when they have reached a problem they can’t solve. The cup signals: they’ve tried their best, asked ‘3 before me’ (me being the teacher) and now they are totally stuck. You and/or your classroom assistant can see the cup on the desk and head that way to help the child work through the problem or give them assistance. Voila: no waving hands.
Privacy is difficult in crowded classrooms. Try making desk-size offices. Use 3 pieces of cardboard or tagboard. Tape the short sides together with enough leeway that the 3 sides can be folded flat for storage. Make them low enough that you and/or your assistants can look over the top and check student work, but high enough to discourage ‘neighboring students’ from looking at the other students work. Sometimes that small bit of privacy will also help a student stay focused. See my book, Educating America: 101 Strategies for Adult Assistants in K-8 Classrooms, page 18, for more details.