Gaining attention in the classroom

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Gaining Attention in the Classroom

Introduction

Gaining the attention of the class is a task that teachers have to do countless times. At times it is effortless to achieve whilst on other occasions it can be a challenging and draining experience. Many factors influence this including, for example, the motivation and learning behaviour of the students and the nature of the task engaged with. However, it also influenced greatly by how 'drilled' the students are; in being brought to attention by the teacher. Having clear rules and expectations about how you want students to show good listening behaviour also needs to include the transition from what ever students were doing to silent and engaged attention.

These rules about gaining attention require establishing at the start of each academic year so that students learn what is expected of them. It should never be assumed that this knowledge and understanding is inherited from the previous teachers. Each teacher has their own style and approach. Always invest time to explain and model attention cues that you intend to use and how promptly you expect the students to respond. Revisit this explicitly as necessary.

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Attention Cues

Silent Cues

Have a non-verbal signal such as raising your arm and or placing a finger on the lip with younger students. Simply standing at the front of the class facing students can be all the prompt required if this is what you have taught them to resond to. These can work very well even when the class is noisy but can take quite a few seconds to work. Helps to avoid raising your voice.

Clapping Cues

The adult claps and the children are taught that they must respond by repeating the clap rhythm. It can be any clap pattern as long it is consistent for your class. This can work quite quickly.

Musical Cues

This can be using a whistle when outside or a rainmaker, little bell or tambourine when in the classroom. Some early primary practioners use simple songs and chants that are then repeated to gain attention.

Reward Cues

As the class or group become focussed use reward cues to speed up the rest. Actively praise or give out team points to children who are ready. Use proximity praise to target children who are not ready by praising and rewarding those closest to them.

Naming Cues

Finally, use naming cues such as "Stephen, we are about to start now, thanks". Avoid blaming the child, or giving the impression that they have been naughty or are in the wrong. The aim is to remind not reprimand.

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You may also be interested in the following pages:

Classroom Behaviour

Developing Listening

Listening Resources

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