The bell rings, and in walk the students.
Chris and Jordy are already arguing, completely ignoring your instructions.
"I didn't do my homework. Did my mom email you? She said she doesn't like the homework and I don't have to do it," Sam asserts upon entrance.
Kiana is tugging on your sleeve, "Miss, I need to talk to you NOW!" She gives you the eyes!
"Phone is ringing," Eric yells as he walks into the room.
A chair crashes to the floor from an angry Kim who has slammed her fists onto the desk, and then, walks out before class has begun.
You get to the phone just in time for it to stop ringing.
So you try...
“Boys and girls?”
“Okay, let’s focus.”
This phrase drives me crazy! First, you are the adult. You shouldn’t have to wait! Second, what kid doesn’t want you to wait while they finish having fun?
This is a terrible strategy!
The scenario above is going to happen! We all these moments, days, and days of these moments! And it's okay to have one of these "days", but they do not need to be the definition of your classroom!
Classroom routines and procedures should be established and practiced at the beginning of the school year! Expectations around procedures should also be established at the beginning of the school year AND reviewed periodically throughout the year!
As long as we are consistent, our classrooms should be well oiled machines, right?!
While I do like to think of myself as the QUEEN of my classroom, I just honestly don’t have that kind of power.
Things are going to happen that are beyond our control. That’s teaching!
But we can’t just WAIT to get students’ attention! I’m sure they would love for us to wait!
Once we have things back under control, we have to regain our students’ focus immediately.
So, how do we do that? Here are some tips and tricks that I use!
#1 Ding, Dong!
My doorbell has to be my Number One because it is foolproof!
It is my best trick for gaining my students’ attention, AND it is also engaging, versatile, and CHEAP! (What more can a teacher ask for?!)
I purchased the doorbell online! I keep the buzzer in my pocket or just lying on my desk, and I press it when I want the kids' attention.
It totally works!
I also had some fun with it when I first got it! Much like a game of ‘Where’s Waldo?’, my students searched for weeks to answer “Where is that noise coming from?!” A few of them found the doorbell’s hiding spot (a plug behind a bookcase), but they continued to let the other students’ play detective!
My doorbell also doubles as a signal to transition! For example, when we are rotating through editing stations or centers, I use press my buzzer. The first time the doorbell rings, I alert them to an upcoming transition: “One more minute.” The second time the students hear it, they move to their next location.
#2 Wordly Whispers
Improve your students’ vocabulary AND keep them on their toes!
Teach your students a word. Practice saying the word. Define the word. Use the word in sentences. Then, use the word as your attention getting signal.
My students have a set of vocabulary words that they dissect, manipulate, and employ each week. Daily, I choose one of these words to be my Word of the Day. When students hear me say the Word of the Day, they know to freeze in place, turn their voices off, and put their eyes on me.
First, we use the Word of the Day in a sentence. Typically, I will model the word’s usage in a sentence for the first time we use a word. Students, then, generate sentences each time thereafter that I say the word.
After using the Word of the Day in a sentence, I will proceed with the instructions or transition, depending on the reason that I had asked for the students’ attention.
Students will be listening and waiting to hear the word! As a result, they will tune into the sound of your voice each time you address them.
#3 Let Me Get a Chant!
Chants are fun and can help improve oral language! Plus, it gets the entire class involved, and a little team building can go a long way!
Call-and-response strategies are utilized by the military to churches, and for our purposes, classrooms! This is when students respond verbally in unison with an identical saying to a teacher’s ‘call’.
Here are a few examples!
Teacher: Zip, zip, zap!
Students: We’re all that!
Teacher: Everyone in the house
Students: is quiet as a mouse.
Teacher: 1, 2, 3, eyes on me.
Students: 1, 2, eyes on you.
Teacher: 1, 2
Students: eyes on you.
Teacher: 1, 2
Students: eyes on you.
Teacher: 3, 4
Students: talk no more.
Teacher: L - I - S
Students: T - E - N
Whichever chant you choose, I would suggest having it as a written visual for your students as well. The visual will serve as a reminder of the expectation AND act as a literacy resource within your room!
If your kiddos do not have oral language, use claps! Make pattern calls and pattern responses!
These are a few tips for getting your students attention, but there are millions of attention-getting tricks!
~By Miss Rae
What are some other ways to get our kiddos’ attention?
Hi! I'm Miss Rae! I'm a Special Education Coordinator with a passion for creating research-based resources for DiVeRSe learners.