How many times have you told your students to “FREEZE”, and then had to repeat it 5 additional times just to FINALLY get their attention?
Students do not always respond to a simple call for stoppage of play. Asking a 5 year old to stop his body during a game of tag may be the hardest thing he/she is asked to do all day! This can be a serious safety risk when students continue playing while others have stopped. Additionally, you want to save the loudest “FREEZE” for that moment that you see something about to happen and you need to prevent it immediately.
Use attention-grabbing calls that will require students to respond both verbally and physically. Over the years I have enjoyed coming up with my own, but some of my favorites come from other professionals in the field. Find out more about my 3 favorite attention grabbers for effective classroom management below!
3 Attention Grabbers for Effective Classroom Management:
1. What’s Up?!
While at a T.E.A.M. workshop at Northeastern Illinois University, I walked away with a simple three-step attention grabber from Dr. Chris Cavert. Throughout his active presentation Dr. Cavert would call out, “What’s up?” and the response was simple, “The sky!” (hand/finger pointing up). Often we did only this step and it was used to regain focus during small or whole group instruction. However, when desired, the other two steps could be implemented and required more physical and mental commitment from the participant.
After students respond to the first question he followed it up with, “What’s down?”, and the response was, “The ground!” (with finger pointing down). Lastly he asked the question, “What’s around?” and students would spin and point to all other students saying, “Everybody else!” With this three-step approach you will most likely have everyone ready for instruction regardless of the initial response time.
I used this for many years with students in grades K-6. It became habit throughout the halls, lunchroom, or classroom. I used it often for refocusing on the task or attention to the instruction, stopping the activity, or just to check if they were listening.
2. Where Are You?!
While attending an IAPHERD Conference in St. Charles, Illinois, I had the opportunity to observe National Teacher of the Year, John Thomson. During Mr. Thomson’s presentation, he asked participants to respond to the question, “Where are you?!” The class/group would freeze and respond with, “Here I am!” While saying this, the players would put both hands and arms in the air and make their bodies as big as possible. This action required the participants to stop, let go of others or materials, and respond immediately. There were additional steps that went more in depth and included additional body movements.
I found this activity most impactful with my K-3 students and this attention-grabbing, echo style response engaged my students more than just asking them to “FREEZE.”
Lastly, utilize this simple Whole Brain Teaching strategy that will promote engagement during your instruction. As the teacher, your job is simple, you say, “class.” The class’ job is easy too, as they respond with “yes.” The engagement comes with how you say “class”. If you say, “Class, class, class,” in a very soft voice, the students should answer with an equal tone while saying, “Yes, yes, yes.” If you say, “Oh, CLAAAAAASS?” They should respond similarly with, “Oh, YEEEEEES.”
This may not be the most effective strategy to use during a large field activity or during a chaotic game with lots of noise in the gym. But when you are delivering instruction or checking for engagement, this may be something you want to pull out of your toolbox. Find out more about this strategy.
Ultimately, effective classroom management should be an on-going project for all teachers, as we must constantly evolve to meet the needs of a variety of learners each day. We certainly need to have some set practices and a firm grip on how your classroom operates throughout the lesson.
But as professionals, we must continue to seek out new tools to put in the “toolbox” because students and classes are not static. Students will change and new students will emerge each day, month, or year! Implement whole brain teaching responses and attention-grabbers into your instruction to boost safety and not lose all your hair…
What are your best practices for getting student attention during class?