Getting a class' attention

Discussion in 'High School' started by ograwk, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. ograwk

    ograwk Rookie

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    Dec 10, 2012

    This is my first year teaching high school - I have taught elementary school for the past 17 years. My question is, what are some good methods for getting the class' attention? In elementary school, we clapped, chanted, counted - I had lots of tricks, but I don't think they are appropriate for high school. I have large classes - some at 41, my smallest is 38, so I need some way to get their attention quickly that will not seem juvenile to them, and that won't require me to have to shout above them. I've been using the "class, yes" method from Whole Brain Teaching, which works for some periods, but others it doesn't. Any advice?
     
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  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    flicker the lights?
     
  4. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I usually say, "Everyone stop what you're doing. Please put your eyes on me." I'd say it works 98% of the time, even with my class of 45.
     
  5. vivalavida

    vivalavida Companion

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    I'm interested in responses as well. The teacher I worked with for my practicum wasn't extremely strict when it came to having students' attention, so when I did anything with the class as a whole, they continued to talk over me as they did for her! Ugh! I'm definitely curious to hear your tips/tricks!
     
  6. MissApple

    MissApple Companion

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    Dec 13, 2012

    I honestly would try some of the stuff you use with younger grades. Even if it sounds babyish, the older kids get a kick out of it. If I know what their elementary teacher may have used (peace and quiet was a big one in my area) I'll use that because they instantly recognize it and think it's fun to act like a little kid again.

    I don't use that all the time though. In my school we raise a hand silently and all of the kids are expected to quiet down and raise their hand. They need a lot of practice though.
     
  7. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    I say "Eyes and ears on me". I've been rather surprised at how well it has worked, considering that I find it somewhat babyish.
     
  8. UniQK

    UniQK New Member

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    Dec 22, 2012

    Stand in-front of them, give them the eye don't say anything depending on your relationship one of them will say "oh come on guys listen up" Respect is earned so say thank you and get straight back on to where you left off. if it happens again when they all go quiet give them a little bit of a talk get them to agree then continue.
     
  9. TeachingHistory

    TeachingHistory Companion

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    I simply say "Eyes up here" and wait. If it takes the kids more than a few seconds I say "I'll wait". I go dead still and wait. It'll take my kids about another 10 seconds to figure it out and get quiet. Whenever they get quiet I always say thank you. When I teach I'm very animated and move around the classroom a lot. So when I stop moving they all look at me because they think something is wrong.

    When I was student teaching I unknowingly trained my kids to get quiet when I leaned against the projector cart. One day they were being very self sufficient and productive with group work so I decided to just watch and see what they would come up with. I leaned against the projector cart not thinking, they all got dead silent and stared at me. They had to tell me what I did!
     
  10. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Dec 22, 2012

    I count down 3-2-1. I count slowly so the students can finish whatever sentence they're saying, but no more than that. It works most of the time.

    I don't like the more babyish ways of getting attention. I figure, if it would annoy me to have a principal say it to a bunch of teachers at a staff meeting, I'm not going to say it to my high schoolers.
     
  11. blinkjoeboy

    blinkjoeboy New Member

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    Dec 28, 2012

    You can always go with the "10...9...8...7...6...." routine. Usually works for me, but then you need to speak clearly and fluently to keep their attention. Speak (really) softly to allow them to open their ears and listen. I work in an inner city high school and this works all of the time.
     
  12. Cold Pastoral

    Cold Pastoral New Member

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    I have rules set up (paraphrased: 1. Respect everyone. 2. Listen, not talk, while others are talking. 3. Discuss ideas in an orderly fashion.). So, I'll say, "I need you all up here" and use two of my fingers to point at my eyes. I wait a moment, and if anyone's still mumbling, I'll politely say, "<student's name>, which rule are you breaking?" Because I've established the rules so well (they've been tested on it; we've gone through them millions of times), they'll usually roll their eyes, say, "1 and 2," and then I'll respond, "Thank you." After that, the class is pretty quiet.

    Some people raise their hand and have their students raise theirs in response until the whole class is quiet with their hands up. I don't think I could pull that off because I have a fear of holding my hand up, and no one caring :)
     
  13. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    I don't do anything fancy--I just make a general statement about how I need the class's attention. I wait until ALL students are quiet before I start talking. I will never talk over students, and they realize that quickly.
     
  14. Studentteacher8

    Studentteacher8 Rookie

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    Jan 19, 2013

    Stand in front of the class with your hand raised and say something simple like "I'd like your attention please", and wait. I haven't tried this myself, a highly experienced teacher told me this and she said it really does work.
     
  15. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    45 students is a lot for one person!
     
  16. OneBerry

    OneBerry Comrade

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    Jan 24, 2013

    With 6th graders, they totally mastered my favorite technique, in which I say "I need all eyes on me" and wait to continue until I have made eye contact with every student and there is silence. Don't know how it would work with high schoolers, especially so many of them, but it's something to try.
     
  17. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I loved that show. I am going to have to try that one out!
    Hey! Hey! Hey!
     
  18. TeacherAnon

    TeacherAnon Rookie

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    I just stand there and say, “That’s OK. I’ve got all day. You, on the other hand, have the same amount of work to do whether we start now or in 10 minutes.” Once that cat is out of the bag invariably there’s shushing and eventually a “Hey, shut up!” A few acrimonious looks are exchanged and I offer to wait some a couple more minutes if they need me to.

    My students police themselves pretty good. By the time we’re 4 to 5 weeks in all I have to do is stand there and look like I want to say something and it’s like someone is knifing tires in the faculty lot. “Shhhh!” “Shush!” “Jeeez!” “SHUT UP!”

    This technique also works during a note taking session. I don’t do lectures. I give you info that you really should have on your notes because I like open note quizzes and since I’m a Professional Technical Educator I like to let you take your notes to your machine when I give a low stakes practical examination. Sometimes, during these sessions I’ll find a couple of young people with their heads together talking or simply engaging in a little game of what I call “Slap & Tickle”. Basic goofing around stuff, they get all middle school and giggly. That’s when I engage a “Proximity Teaching” strategy.

    Proximity Teaching means that if a couple of students are off task rather than hollering at them I simply move myself toward them. When, in proximity, I get close enough they will simply be quiet. Yeah, the teacher is standing right there teaching—whatcha gonna do?
     
  19. JessicaKellin

    JessicaKellin Rookie

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    Feb 19, 2013

    Stand in front of the room, look impatient and unimpressed, and they will shut up. All it takes is one student to see you and they will signal to the rest of the class.

    I count in my head when I do this and I'll let them know how long it took for me to have their complete attention. This works for their competitive side - compare them to other classes or to their previous bests.
     
  20. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Feb 19, 2013

    I did a 5-point focus thing, in which I counted to 5 and each step meant something different.

    It took too long (yes 5 seconds to me is too long) and it often didn't work and we'd have to practice.

    I am trying "I'll give you three seconds to have all eyes on me, 1... 2... 3..." Or, "I need your attention in 3... 2... 1."

    It's worked pretty well so far. If people are still talking, I give them a count. (if they get to three it's out of the classroom until they can handle themselves)
     
  21. school_o_fish

    school_o_fish Rookie

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    Mar 27, 2013

    I do a few of the things listed here:

    class, yes

    count down from 3 to 1

    simply say "I need your attention please" or "all eyeballs on me please".

    The only suggestion I have is to NOT flicker the lights, if a student has sensory issues or is epileptic, flickering the lights can be a trigger and very stressful.
     
  22. Strick

    Strick Rookie

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    I like the counting down idea. I will definitely try that one!
     
  23. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Usually yelling, "Hey!..........Folks!" works for me.

    There's another teacher in our building who uses a different "F" word, surrounded by "Shut," "the," and "up." I wouldn't have believed it, if I hadn't seen if for myself, but he gets away with it. I guess because he's been around so long, handles graduation practice each June with over 200 kids and yells that into a bullhorn to get them started, they're used to it.
    :lol:
     
  24. ScienceEd

    ScienceEd Companion

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    I read one technique that works if your adminstration lets you is threaten to keep the class for a minute or more after the bell rings if you have to count to 10, three times in a row.

    You stand up in front of the class and say "when I hold up my finger i want everyone quiet and looking at me. If I have to raise three fingers then the class will stay after the bell rings to give me the lost instructional time that I had to wait for you to be quiet."

    it doesn't work will all classes because some of my students would rather stay in my class than leave, but we have strict tardy policies so it normally is effective.

    The students who are paying attention will get their peers to be quiet because they don't want to be kept after the bell rings.

    I normally only have to keep them once for them to quiet down when I raise my hand.
     
  25. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I use PAT (in other words known as earned free time). They earn 4 minutes / day, I have 4 lines on the board symbolizing the minutes. When things don't go well, I start erasing half a line or a line (30 seconds or 1 minutes). It's surprising how much they care and they tell each other to shut up. The worst thing I end up doing is actually erasing a minute. No yelling, no threatening.
     
  26. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Your Admin is ok that with you putting kids out because you can't get them to be quiet?
     
  27. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I notice a lot of people say they wait and won't talk until the kids are quiet but I feel like this only works if the kids are relatively respectful of the teacher. Some teachers might be waiting until it's time to retire.

    I watch a teacher do this everyday when he is teaching in my room during my plan. He says "I'll wait until everyone is quiet." But, many of the kids just keep on talking because when he's quiet they feel that's the best time to talk since they aren't talking over him. I watch them argue with him that they aren't being disrespectful if they are talking while he's quiet because he's not teaching.
     
  28. teacherbatman

    teacherbatman Companion

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    That's what I was thinking, it definitely depends on the class, the school, the community, the kids, and so on.
     
  29. AusHam

    AusHam New Member

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    How would this work for a secondary school environment
    where kids don't pay attention because they are simply disinterested in academic learning

    Would rewarding them with lollies or candy for maintaining
    attention be a good incentive to maintain their attention on tasks?
     
  30. rapple

    rapple Rookie

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    Unintentionally, I stumbled on a phrase this year that worked very well with my high school students (I also had large classes of Freshman). I would simply say, "Focus Forward" and then put my eyes on the clock. If students were not all looking forward and quiet within 30 seconds, I would begin to write the time on the board in 10 second increments. Just the idea that I was writing time on the board would grab everyone's attention! Only one time did I get past 60 seconds. Students would ask me what the time meant but I never told….just would say, "You really, really, REALLY don't want to know!"

    Some teachers do use the 'watching the clock' method and hold the students extra time (this depends on your school's policies), or give more homework (doesn't work for students who will not complete HW anyway), or give a quiz if they reach a certain amount of seconds.

    For me, I don't want schoolwork or homework associated with punishment. I did have a contest during a very challenging week (right before Spring Break) in that I kept running totals by class periods on my whiteboard. The class with the least amount of 'seconds' earned a reward day. That worked very well - so well, that I will use it again this year!
     
  31. rapple

    rapple Rookie

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    I have done something similar but instead of using lines, I used marbles in a jar. Each class period is a different color marble but all marbles are in the same clear jar (fishbowl). I pull out a marble when the class doesn't follow a procedure and usually say, "You're losing your marbles!" The students see immediately the loss and where they stand with the other classes. The class with the most marbles at the end of the week earns a 15 minute reward (one high school class begged to play Heads Up-7Up!) But, I have to be careful that the bowl of marbles is far from students and put away if I'm absent. Yes, students love to steal marbles :(
     
  32. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    When I taught HS, I had one place at the front of the room where I would stand and then hold up one hand. I remember having teachers in graduate school who used the same technique.
     
  33. MsDouglas

    MsDouglas Rookie

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    I prefer to take the silent approach. If I stand at the board, I expect my students to pay attention. If I'm teaching and they start talking, I will keep writing or flipping through the PowerPoint but I won't say a word.

    When I had a really large class with a lot of loud mouths, I looked up suggestions on Pinterest. I presented all the options to them and let them pick. I forget what I said but the entire class responded "Mac and cheese." Honestly, the students may love your elementary school tactics.
     
  34. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I think all of these attention getting statements mentioned can work fine (except the guy that says "shut the f up"!! :eek::dizzy:). What's really important is that you learn names as quickly as possible. Once you say, "ok, guys, listen up!" you'll probably get 95% compliance. Saying, "Johnny, Susie, I need you to listen up," will quell the rest of the conversations, then start the lesson.
     
  35. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I didn't realize how old this thread was! I'm so glad I don't teach my joint class anymore (45 kids).

    I find a sharp "Hey!" to be very effective and easy when they're being too loud. I also will say "Listen up!", which works out pretty well too.
     
  36. Ms. Pond

    Ms. Pond New Member

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    As a substitute teacher, for the time being, getting the class's attention is one of the hardest things for me and I love all of the ideas/comments to the originator of the post.

    I normally do a clap pattern and the students have to respond by clapping the second half back to me. It's normally the "shave and hair cut, two bits" clap rhythm.
     
  37. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Big difference whether this is for the sub or a regular classroom teacher. Subs will continue to struggle while there is an easy give and take with the regular teacher. I have been both, so I have experience. As a sub, I would get the seating chart out, look at a talker, and start writing names on a piece of paper, without any emotion or explanation. Someone will always notice and soon there is a quiet as everyone begins to believe that there will be trouble for those on the list. When quiet, I would simply fold the sheet of paper and put it in my pocket, no explanation. I still do something similar as a full time teacher, choosing absolute silence over almost any other method. Writing a pun of the day on the board as class begins is a quick way to get all eyes on you. Once the eyes are on you, get going with the lesson.
     
  38. wldywall

    wldywall Connoisseur

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    I'm rather short, so I hold my hand up and say 'hi five" then count down from five. The expectation is that they are silent LONG before I get to five. By three they are smacking each other on the arm telling each other to quiet down.

    I also explain to my class, whether I was in my own class or subbing, that I find yelling at my class rude and won't do it. Therefore if there are people who are making it necessary for me to raise my voice are the one risking further disciplinary action.

    I've never had to send anyone out after that when subbing.
     
  39. shadyleafytree

    shadyleafytree Rookie

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    Nov 18, 2014

    Strategy for tough class

    I have one class in the middle of my day that is a tough class to break. I have tried standing in front of them unimpressed by their chatter saying, "I'll wait" and other variations including, "I can wait, but you guys now only have XX minutes to complete the assignment on your own, bummer!":whistle:

    I have tried doing activities teaching them about being respectful to each other and to their teachers.

    I have tried assigning homework of the work they don't get in class.

    I have tried sending problem students out of the classroom until they are ready to join the class and be productive.

    I feel like everything I have used before in my previous experience teaching hasn't worked with this one class.

    The kids have told me that they are used to not doing work and getting away with it, and they do not care if they have to repeat this course.

    I'm sure there are strategies I have missed that work with problem classes. I have about 5 students out of 21 in that class that just cannot be quiet and once they start talking, everyone else gets roped in too. The students are not rude to me (aside from talking over me) and individually are really nice, but put them all together in one classroom and they just cannot stop talking!

    Any ideas or suggestions, please? :thanks:
     
  40. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Nov 18, 2014

    This sounds like my second period class. They mean well, but the smallest thing will set them off like popcorn (not all, but it seems like most). When they start chatting, I freeze and give them "the look" and they do quiet down.

    Now last year, I had two classes that were really challenging (at a different school) and some times it would be so bad that I would calmly walk over to my desk and start writing down names. When they noticed, I told them I was writing a list of parents to call, and I did make all those calls. Some of them tried to act tough and say they didn't care, and to be honest, I think it was true for some of them. So I guess I don't have a great answer to your problem, but more to say that I've been in your shoes and it is very frustrating!

    As a last resort, I have started making phone calls home in class, and putting the student on the phone with the parent.
     

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