Ministry of Education, Guyana

How to Get Attention in the Classroom

The natural tendency of children to get distracted often affects the pace of classroom activities. To accomplish more, a teacher needs to get attention from the class. When dealing with an inattentive classroom, teachers tend to get stressed and end up talking louder in an attempt to grab attention. The strain this creates often proves draining. Building up a system that kids recognize and training them to follow it is vital to getting attention on demand. Visual and sound cues as well as a perceptible slowing down will achieve better results than shouting at students.

Determine what signal you will use to get attention and explain this to students at the beginning of the year. Get them to practice doing this for a few days so they start responding automatically to your cue. Make sure kids understand that the action you perform is to transit to the next activity and not a game that leads to more noise in the classroom. Build up a competitive spirit by timing the process and challenge the kids to come to attention faster. For example, if you are using the hands up technique, tell the children that it means they should stop talking and listen to the teacher.

Use visual clues that grab attention without you having to shout or yell. For example, raise your hand and have children raise their hands in response to noticing the cue. This method will fetch rapid results because no child can ignore it when he sees hands going up around him.

Create an unusual sound to gain attention. Ring a bell, use a music box or clap your hands. Make sure the sound is loud enough to be heard above the noise in the classroom to register with students. However, avoid using volumes that are so loud that they grate.

Don't resort to shouting or yelling above the noise of the classroom. Rather, move in the opposite direction by dropping your voice to little more than a whisper so children have to strain to catch what you are saying. Combine this with moving slowly and deliberately to a specific predetermined spot in the room. This process of slowing down will calm children more effectively than getting worked up.

Monitor the results of your attention calling technique. Anytime you find that children don't respond, repeat the practice sessions until they give you exactly what you are asking. Over a period, if you find the effectiveness of a method reducing, change over to another method. Make sure to let the children know about the new method and practice before you start using it.


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