There you stand – paper airplanes fly across the room, someone just ran past your leg, and the noise level is so loud it’s comparable to a rock concert…
It won’t really be this dramatic, but as a teacher, there is a good chance that at some point you will find yourself standing in front of a classroom of rowdy students who are unable to focus on your lesson. This can happen to the most seasoned teachers, so don’t feel like a failure if and when it happens to you.
Effective attention getters are a necessary classroom management tool, and can quickly calm a noisy classroom and re-focus your students. Keep in mind that you can’t expect students to respond to any type of classroom management without being taught it first. Whatever you choose to do with your students, you will need to explain how it works, model it, and give everyone time to practice.
Explain: “Whenever I do/say _____, I want you to stop what you’re doing and _____.”
Model: Show how it will work. Have an eager student role play different scenarios for the class (being a noisy student, being the teacher, etc.)
Practice: Do a few practice runs together. Practice a few times together right away, and then a few more times without warning throughout that first day. After the first day students should be good to go, and understand what is expected of them.
We’ve put together a collection of ideas that can help, so take some time to try out techniques that you think will work well with your style of teaching.
1. Put a wireless doorbell in your classroom – the kind that plays music. Carry the remote with you and click it when you need their attention.
2. Say “Class, Class, Class”, and have students respond with “Yes, Yes, Yes” – using the same tone of voice as the teacher. Repeat the pattern a few time, using a variety of silly voices.
3. Use a wind chime or bell to signal when you need students’ attention.
4. Say “if you can hear my voice, clap once. If you can hear my voice, clap twice.” Start at a whisper – they should be quiet after just a few claps!
5. If you have a smart board, cue up a funny (and appropriate!) video. When it’s time to start a new activity, get everyone’s attention by playing it.
6. Turn the lights off and on.
7. Try different clapping patterns. You clap a pattern and the class needs to clap the same pattern back. You may need to clap a few times to get everyone’s attention.
8. Use music or a song to signal that it is time to quiet down. It is important to use the same song each time, but you can add some variety picking a new song each month.
9. Count backwards from 10 – students need to be ready by the time you get to 1.
10. Thank students that are already quiet individually. Rewarding the positive will quickly change the negative. Every so often add a little prize reward – students will quickly catch on.
11. For younger students, try blowing “magic quiet bubbles”, which are really just bubbles that you call “magic quiet bubbles”.
12. Try call and response attention getters. The teacher says the first part, and the students respond with the second part.
“Alright stop!” … “Collaborate and listen!”
“Yakety Yak!” … “Don’t talk back!”
“Scooby Dooby Doo” … “Where are you?”
“Can I get a” … “Whoop, Whoop!”
“Macaroni and cheese” … “Everybody freeze!”