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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What is your best advice to get students attention and keeping them quiet?

What is your best advice to get students attention and keeping them quiet?

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I am having difficulty getting students attention and keeping them quiet. I have tried many different techniques i.e, 123 eyes on me..(singing)We were talking now lets stop. What is your best advice to get students attention and keeping them quiet?

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margaret james's picture

I'm not sure what grade you teach - but I teach middle school - and student often come into the classroom fully charge and talkative. What I have come to realize is that most people's attention span is the length of a TV commercial and I need at least a 30 minute sitcom to roll out my learning adventure. To maintain the peace I super-charge my class methods ~ I NEVER stand still in one place ~ moving constantly keeps heads turning and bodies moving to see 'what's next'. I modulate my voice and NEVER lecture, but instead 'hook' students using a 'story' that leads into the lesson topic painlessly. I do outrageous things like instantly switch into song and give them lessons spontaneously set to a current tune using exaggerated gestures. I am overtly passionate about my subject and the 'art' of teaching - I think of what I dislike in meetings and workshops and vow to NEVER do those things in my class. I make it personal and real and students both respect and appreciate it - I RARELY have any behavior issues.

Julie Edwards's picture

I have been searching for new ways to handle behaviors for some of my students. Your approach has enlightened me and I want to try these techniques. I teach first grade and I continuously walk around, but never break into song, dance, or laughter, even though we sing a lot at calendar time. Thanks for the info. Sounds like fun!!!!

Lori's picture

You might try a particular word or sound that you and your students practice over and over until the children become fully aware of the meaning of the word or sound. This word or sound is their "cue" that it is time to be silent. Each time you give the word or sound, and they do not respond, you stop everything and practice the procedure again to be sure they understand. (Harry Wong's books are wonderful at explaining this and many other classroom management techniques!) Hope this helps!

dennis c. dela cruz's picture

give the pupils a clue/key for them to respond over and over again when they're in their talking moment with their seatmate,and if they dont respond, stop everything you are doing and do your procedure as usual,,,,practice makes perfect.

walter canales's picture

thanks to all of you for this tips ill try to put them into practice, this is my first year as a teacher, i teach technology (computers) and trying to integrate technology into our school in Nicaragua.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

The great book (and website) Brain Rules helps you understand the attention mechanism better, and does Chip and Dan Heath's book- Made to Stick- helps you understand how to make those main ideas "sticky" and memorable. I think when you understand the attention mechanism better and how to hold attention once you've got it, things will be easier all the way around.
I have two kids with ADHD, so I understand a bit about attention issues and how difficult it can be to hold them on task. Looking at it from a student's perspective, can you make the tasks exciting enough that they want to be part of it and not lose a minute, and can you make the expectations of what needs to be done in the class each day clear enough, that they know what to expect?
Running a classroom can be hard work, but you also have to earn the student's respect and trust and once you have that, many of the classroom management issues will be more minor.

Robin Keating's picture

I have been teaching 35 years, and currently teach two sections (23 each) of very active and vocal 5th graders! I discovered "Whole Brain Teaching--Power Teaching" and have great success implementing the strategies of this program. Just google "Whole Brain Teaching". Chris Biffle is the leader of this program. Believe me, it works and makes my teaching fun for me and beneficial to my students.

Ann Hyde's picture
Ann Hyde
Special Ed English teacher, Anchorage, Alaska

The absolute best thing I have ever done is just to start the year by explaining to students that I am required to teach a precise number of days and a precise amount of time. If they waste any, I will time them, and keep them after class to make up for that time. I keep the entire class, and I don't write passes. At the first sign of disruption, I stop and look at the clock. It usually takes less than 30 seconds for the kids to quiet down, and they generally prompt each other to stop. It takes once or twice each year, and then they self-discipline. It has worked when I subbed, with middle school and high school students. It has lowered my blood pressure substantially! I also make sure to give them about 5-10 minutes at the end of the class to talk, or have a group activity planned so they can burn off some of their energy. I know I can't sit still for a whole class period!!!

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