Teachers in middle school and high school can quickly get students back on track by using these visual and audible cues. Classroom management can be one of the hardest things for many new teachers to do well. If you don’t have a variety of ways to get students’ attention, raising your voice may seem like the only option when they are doing something loud or just not doing what you want them to do. These attention-getters can be used by new teachers or teachers who are dealing with new situations in this less-than-ideal school year to avoid making the classroom a bad place to learn.
For each of the following attention-getters, it’s important to tell students exactly how you want them to respond. For older students, it should only take a few minutes to show them the attention-getter and explain what you want them to do (turn off their voices, look at the board, etc.).
Here are 7 attention-getters to use instead of raising your voice;
1. The shout-out (or Snap-In)
The clap-in is a classic way to get people’s attention, and it works! Many teachers raise their voices when the classroom is too loud, but clapping is a much better way to get students’ attention that is just as noticeable. To use a clap-in, just choose a clapping pattern and have the students repeat it. As more students join in, the clap spreads across the room until everyone is clapping and stopping what they are talking about.
There are a few ways for students to find this more interesting. One idea is to start with a clap and then move on to snaps. This means that the students have to be even quieter to hear the pattern you snap and then repeat. You can also choose a student to lead the clap-in or snap-in to make the attention-getter more interesting. Lastly, you can work with your students to make a unique clap-in or snap-in Attention-Getters pattern for your class instead of making up your own.
2. Give Me Five
This is a great option that not only gets the students’ attention back on you but also gives them a chance to work together to get everyone back on track. Raise your hand high so the other students can see you for this one. Each student will raise their hand when they see the signal. This will keep spreading until all of the students raise their hands in silence and look to you for more instructions.
To make this more interesting, I’ve timed my students to see how long it takes for everyone to raise their hand, and then I’ve challenged them to beat their time. This has been a great way to get everyone’s attention without even having to raise my voice.
3. Class-Wide Countdown
This Attention-Getters strategy is similar to “Give Me Five” because when students join in to get their attention back on the teacher, it has a domino effect on the whole classroom.
To use this strategy, the teacher starts a countdown, usually from 10, but teachers can change it as needed for each group. As students hear the countdown, they join in until everyone is taking part. When everyone in the class says “zero,” they all stop talking and turn their attention back to the teacher.
4. Ask and answer
Using a call-and-response is another easy way to get students’ attention, since they have to listen to join in and stop talking to themselves in order to give the right answer. This attention-getter gives both teachers and students a lot of room to be creative in making the calls and responses that work best for them.
Similar to the Clap/Snap-In, it’s good to have students help make these “calls and responses.” They can then practice how they sound and what they should do when they hear them.
This Attention-Getters method relies on a timed activity and sounds other than the teacher’s voice to get students’ attention.
I use this method when I give my students a task to do with a group or partner for a certain amount of time. When they start talking, I start a timer or a song (an instrumental song works best! ), and when the timer or song goes off, the students are supposed to stop talking and pay attention to me again. The timer works best for activities that might be louder as a group, while the song is a great choice for a slightly quieter activity that two people can do together.
6. Hit the Lights
I only use this method when I need the students’ attention right away back on me. A quick flash of the lights can let students know that something is about to happen, just like the theater lights flash when a show is about to start. I tell them very clearly that a quick flash of the lights means they need to be quiet and follow me.
I often use this method when students are working in groups and I only need to remind them of one quick fact but want them to keep working at the same level of noise.
7. Sound Effects
This strategy can be a more fun way to get students’ attention, but it needs to be taught explicitly so that students can be responsible and do what is expected of them when it is used.
For this Attention-Getters method, the teacher should find a sound that will quickly get the students’ attention and play it when needed. I like to use this one. When they hear the sound, my students know they need to stay in their seats and look at me for instructions.
In conclusion, raising our voices may have become a default response when seeking attention or conveying our message effectively. However, there are alternative attention-getting strategies that can yield more positive results and foster better communication. By employing these techniques, we can maintain respect, create a calm and inviting environment, and encourage meaningful connections. So, let’s embrace these alternative strategies and discover the power of attention-getters that go beyond mere vocal volume.