Getting through a typical school day is hardly ever a walk in the park for teachers. As if the natural ebb and flow of professional stress wasn’t enough, there’s always that “x factor” of uncertainty when it comes to student behavior. What will the collective mood of the class be on any particular day — and how will it affect your ability to do his or her job? Eventually, crowd control techniques become necessary. Here are a couple that might help do the trick.

GOTCHA!: The game that keeps everyone following along! During a class reading session, finish a considerable chunk of the material before calling on a student to keep it going. If he or she is lost, shout “GOTCHA!” and subject the student to a mildly embarrassing consequence — like standing in front of the class to read. Require students who are singled out to finish at least one full page; only then can they select a classmate to take over in the “GOTCHA” game.

WHAT’S YOUR SIGN?: With the variety of disruptions and distractions that occur during the day, those designated “quiet times” should remain just that — quiet! To keep the need for speaking to a minimum, consider a system of hand signals for students to use in place of their voices. For example, a raised pinky finger can request a bathroom break, a thumbs-up would mean a student’s work is ready for review, an index finger would ask for clarification, and a closed fist might signify a minor emergency. And of course — it wouldn’t hurt to discuss the meaning of  “minor emergency” before putting it in play.