The Teacher's Guide to Handling the Attention Getter
It is essential to have an attention-getter—or signal—that gets the attention of your students quickly and effectively. Not only does it demonstrate a command of your class and make for smooth transitions between activities, but it is also extremely important in the case of an emergency.
Keep your attention-getter simple, quick, and safe. Make sure that it isn’t disruptive to other classrooms. Teachers use a variety of attention-getters. Choose one or more that you feel comfortable with.
- Transitioning from one subject to the next
- Closing a topic or period
- Preparing for clean-up
- Moving to the next activity
- Focusing on the teacher for directions
- Quieting students for announcements or directions
- Be consistent.
- Be calm and in control: Use a signal once and wait. Never try the signal over and over, because students will not take it seriously.
- Move closer to a student who is not responding to the signal. Proximity can make a big difference in the response you get.
- Remember that you are in charge, and hold your ground when students test you. A strong, silent teacher holding his or her ground can be very intimidating.
- Consider having students help decide on a signal.
- Ask students to list classroom signals that have been used in their other classes.
- Find several classroom signals that work for you, and alternate them if one becomes less effective.
Holding Two Fingers Up in a “Peace Sign”
Nothing is said out loud; two fingers are held up in a V shape, or peace sign. Each student is to hold a hand up as soon as they see this signal, which cues other students who have not yet seen the teacher’s signal. “When hands are up, mouths are shut, and eyes are on teacher.” This is very effective when your class is around other classes: You remain calm and collected, not saying a word, and just wait for all of your students to respond.
- Refocusing students’ attention from group work
- Assembling in the common area
- Quieting students down when entering the classroom
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