With the first day of school drawing nearer, I know many of you are thinking about how you want to manage your class this year. One of the first things I teach my students is the attention signal for our class. As teachers, we already have to talk so much, and having to raise your voice every time you want your students' attention will not only wear out your voice, it will wear out your students. Attention signals are critical to managing your classroom, and if you teach them to your students from the beginning, you will save your sanity in the coming months of the school year.
WHAT IS AN ATTENTION SIGNAL?
An attention signal is something you use to get students' attention. It can be a short saying, song, or series of actions such as clapping. Attention signals can be used when your students are working and you need them to stop, when they are not following directions and you need to redirect them, or in any other instance when you need them to be quiet and listen to you.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE YOUR ATTENTION SIGNAL?
When deciding what attention signal to use, you want to pick something that will be effective and efficient. Your prompt should actually get your students' attention, and it should be short. Long attention signals take away from valuable instruction time and they can even lose the students' attention in the process.
No matter what prompt you choose, always make sure that when you teach it, you also teach your students to stop what they are doing and look at the teacher. I try to pick prompts that have actions integrated to help the students do that.
One prompt I use is:
Teacher: “Hands on top.”
Students: (Put both hands on top of head.) “Everybody stop.”
I love this attention signal because it forces the students to put down what they are working on so they aren’t tempted to continue what they are doing. I can also easily tell who is not giving me their full attention.
Some other prompts I use are:
Teacher: “1, 2, 3, eyes on me."
Students: “1, 2, eyes on you.”
Teacher: “Macaroni and cheese.”
Students: “Everybody freeze.” (Freeze in the position they are in.)
Now that you have a better idea of what attention prompts should look like, here are the steps that I use to teach them.
ONE LAST TIP
Don’t have too many attention signals in your classroom. This overloads the students and is unnecessary. At the beginning of the year, I only use one prompt. Eventually, students tire of hearing you say the same thing to get their attention, so make sure you switch it up! If I sense that my students are not responding as well to the prompt later in the year, I teach another one. Then I have a few attention prompts that I can choose from to keep my students on their toes.
So, as you get ready for the first day, make sure you think through exactly what you expect your students to do when you give them your signal, and don’t lower your expectations. Your kiddos will get it with practice.
If you have an attention signal that works great in your class, please share it in the comments. The more ideas the better!
Hi! I'm Mackenzie. Teacher, wife, and Washingtonian. Check out my blog to get ideas and products for your class.
© Mackenzie Allen 2016.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.