Getting Class' attention

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by MsCatherine, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. MsCatherine

    MsCatherine Rookie

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    Feb 17, 2017

    Hello there,
    I am a student teacher hoping to hear some of your strategies for getting the class' attention. I really struggle with getting the noise level down at the start of class and during transitions; also it gets chatty sometimes while I am teaching. The students aren't speaking out to be rude or anything; they are a really sweet group but they just get talkative/ distracted at times.

    I've been told many times that I need to be louder and more assertive. I was selectively mute as a child and I'm still really quiet now- I can project my voice, but I need to consciously remind myself and sometimes I'll get caught up in the lesson or get anxious, and then I forget or my throat tightens and I start to strain. When it's quiet students can hear me fine, but not when it's noisy. I've been working on being louder for a long time, and can't help but wonder if I'm just not doing something right, because I'm still too quiet. So any tips regarding effective use of voice would be super helpful!

    I'd also really appreciate non-verbal strategies to couple with the use of my voice to get the class' attention. I clearly need that reinforcement. Anything that worked for you. Has anyone tried bringing in chimes or clapping? I'm not sure how it would work in a high school setting. But I'm willing to try different things and see what works for me.
    Thank you so much!
     
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  3. DobbyChatt

    DobbyChatt Rookie

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    Feb 17, 2017

    I've never had much success with bells, claps, etc, but that is just me. At least in high school I ask the class to "wrap up conversations" and listen. After waiting a few seconds they usually can re-direct.

    Starting class, as you said, can be critical. You may want to really enforce a quiet warm up...once the bell rings, they are quietly writing what's on the screen or finding themselves in detention. Hopefully after a while it becomes natural.
     
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  4. DobbyChatt

    DobbyChatt Rookie

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    Feb 17, 2017

    I'll also share this: my mentor sometimes used a tuning fork with a pleasant, long ring. It gives students a couple of seconds to stop talking and then be completely ready to listen before the end of the ring.
     
  5. cocobean

    cocobean Companion

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    Feb 17, 2017

    I teach elementary so I do some call and response: class-yes, jingle-bells, winner winner-chicken dinner, etc etc.
    I also have a call bell that I ring.
    Sometimes I raise my hand and as students notice they stop talking and raise their hand (eventually everyone notices no one is talking and all hands are raised)
    But again, I teach elementary!
     
  6. Secondary Teach

    Secondary Teach Companion

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    Feb 17, 2017


    Welcome to A to Z, Ms. C! DobbyChatt has given sound advice above. Try practicing a routine where you stand by the door to greet students and shake their hands. At the door, you're able to squash any excessive talking and misbehavior before it enters your classroom! As they come in have them do a written activity on the board aka. a bellringer. You could also use think pair shares, short class discussions, current events, etc. for your morning activities to get your students quited down, their motor mouths powered down, and motivated for the day's lesson.
    :)
     
  7. Mr Magoo

    Mr Magoo Comrade

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    Feb 17, 2017

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  8. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Feb 17, 2017

    I use a WBT method. I say "class" then the kids say "yes" and then we go on about our business.

    Definitely greet the kids at the door. Have some warm up/focus work/bell ringer routine set. Routine helps.
     
  9. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Feb 18, 2017

    nip every little sound in the bud. Call out students for even whispering to their neighbors after you've asked them to quiet down. If they're good kids like you've said, they'll quiet down after a couple of call outs. If the kids are jerks, however, this can backfire on you. You might get a chain of small conversations going around the room to extend the call out period.
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 18, 2017

    I have a warm up every day that is to be completed quietly. They take a paper from the tray by the door and everything they need to know is projected one the board. Most of my classes come in quietly and start work quietly because I taught them early on and enforced it. It 2 students were / are wrapped up in a conversation, I simply remind them to stop talking or that they're too loud.

    The class after lunch comes in very loud. It's a few students. It has gotten better because I started deducting points that they earn for free time n Friday. What also helps is that I stand by the door and tell the loud students to enter quietly. I really only have to do this with 2 classes, but it's good practice to stand by the door.

    So try to see what you can do to have the class start off quietly. That will get everything on the right track.

    For transitions, I don't really need to have anything to grab their attention because they're never too loud. If I let them work together, they still need to have their voices low, so if I say anything, they will hear it.
    So that's another thing you can work on, to train them that in the classroom they should never get so loud that they can't hear you. Even if you have a quiet voice.

    However, if you are close to the light switch (and don't need to walk across the room for it), you can simply flicker it and that shows that they need to stop what they're doing and listen.
    You can use sounds like a bell, or anything, the point is to train them (procedure) that if they see / hear it, they must be quiet.
    I've found that high school is too old for class/yes and other call and respond techniques, although it might work for some. (in middle school or lower it works great)
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Feb 18, 2017

    I've learned that it doesn't really matter what attention getting strategy you use as much as how you teach it, how you model it, how you practice it, and what you do when it isn't followed.

    Regardless if you ring a bell, do a whole body response, or simply ask them verbally for your attention, you're not going to hold it for long unless you teach them explicitly what you want them to do, and what will happen if it's not followed.

    For instance, I just ask students to bring their attention to the front in 3... 2... and 1. I teach them that by the time I get to one I need to see three things:
    1. Conversations ended.
    2. Nothing in their hands (pencils and writing utensils put down).
    3. Eyes facing the front.

    This makes it clear what I expect. If the class as a whole is struggling, we will stop as a class, and practice the routine again and again until I feel that they get it. If it's one or two failing at this routine, I will ask them to stay after class for a few minutes and practice it with me one on one.

    Almost as important is what you expect to see after you have their attention. If you don't teach them what you want, what you'll often see is that they'll give you attention, but as soon as you start talking, they'll go back to their work or conversations and tune you out.

    So I teach them that after I give them the signal, I need their attention until I give them their "Go" signal. That means, all three things (eyes, silence, and pencils down) need to be shown until I finish speaking and give them their go signal. If I notice a kid starting too early, I will call them out on it, and say something like "I see a few people are forgetting our attention procedures. If we need to, those students can practice with me after class."

    It's important that you call it out anytime you see it. If you don't students will see that you aren't consistent. It's easy as a teacher to think that your good students are able to multi task and work while you're talking but even if that's true, other kids will see that, and either believe that you are favoring them, or that you weren't serious about having everyone pay attention to you while you talk.

    Good luck with whatever strategy you decide to use.
     
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  12. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Feb 20, 2017

    Deleted.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  13. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 21, 2017

    Check out the EnVoy series by Michael Grinder...the book is on Amazon for cheap. It goes over specific non-verbal communication to focus a class without being "loud." It has helped be immensely, also being a naturally soft-spoken person, myself!
     
  14. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Feb 21, 2017

    I use "give me five"
    I say "give me five" and the students as a class count to from one to five.

    This works great for me. If the class is in the middle of group work, and do not hear the "give me five" they will come to attention as others in the class start counting out loud. So while some may not hear it at first, by the end of the counting the entire class is silent with eyes on the teacher.

    You can whisper "give me five" and those students that hear it will start counting and at the end the entire class is counting and silent by the number five.
     
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  15. MsCatherine

    MsCatherine Rookie

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    Feb 26, 2017

    Thank you so much for your responses and warm welcome :)
    I think I've gotten louder and the kids are more used to me being in front of the class, so it has gotten better. I've tried the bellringers and now I will definitely try out some of the other techniques.
     

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