Whether you're a first-year teacher or a seasoned pro, effective classroom management is a critical piece of any successful classroom. Share what works.

Attention Grabbers

Serena Murillo Elementary teacher in New Mexico

I am student teaching, and finding it hard to find what works for me when getting the attention of the class when they are doing activities such as group work. The teacher I am working with does a clap pattern thing, which the kids have to repeat, and it works great for him! However, I feel very unnatural doing it so I wanted to try other things. I have tried turning off the lights and all eyes on me, but I am not sure I love that idea either.
Any suggestions would be appreciated! I hate just trying to yell over the kids. I am in a third grade classroom.

Serena

Update: Since this post was originally published, many of the tips submitted by commenters were collected together into a presentation. Click here to access the presentation: http://www.edutopia.org/groups/classroom-management/737576

Comments (72)

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6-8th grade teacher from Orleans, CA

What I find helpful is to

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What I find helpful is to continue the technique used by the previous teacher. In our school we all countdown from five and it is amazing how effective it is because the kids have been responding to this prompt since kindergarten.

Teacher of French, levels 1-AP, near Sacramento, CA

I'm a language

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I'm a language teacher...which means my students are always talking! As a result, I need to get their attention quickly, but I find my strategies depend on my mood and on the particular group of students, or even on what we will be doing next. I use timers on my white board, portable kitchen timers and I sometimes use the lights. I haven't found that clapping matched my style, but many elementary teachers instead raise their hand (or have a specific hand signal) and as students notice, each student in the class follows suit. Some teachers prefer another type of noise maker, ranging from chimes to silly noises. Any strategy can be the one that takes an incredibly short amount of time to get everyone's attention, especially if there is a consistent, appropriate response when students take too long. Whatever strategy you choose, one key will be to teach and practice the strategy with the students before expecting them to automatically use it. E

I usually say 'Eyes up here,

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I usually say 'Eyes up here, please' and then count down on my fingers from 5. Also if you can lower your voice so that in order to hear you they have to be quiet. Experiment at the beginning of the year, but once you find something that works be consistent.

Edutopia Consulting Online Editor

hand signal

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I've always believed in using my voice as little as possible to get the attention of students. Raising an arm in the air, just at the height of your head with an open palm, and then waiting really works. Of course, they have to get used to this. I also use this strategy with adult learners.

What other non-verbal attention grabbers are out there?

Rebecca
Edutopia

8th grade English language arts teacher in urban school district

It took me a while to find

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It took me a while to find out what works for me, too, Serena. Maracas, sleigh bells, clapping...What works the best for me and my students is a) I give them a 5 minute or 2 minute (or so) warning so they know to start winding down and then b) when it's time, I put my hand in the air and count down from 5 to 1. It's something a lot of teachers in my building do, so the students are used to it. Hmm...now that I've written that, perhaps you should see what other teachers do most commonly in your building and see how that works with your students. Best of luck on your journey!

I'm waiting...

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We all know the moment when we are waiting and the kids are simply NOT tuning in. It is at this time that I use a simple little strategy that popped into my head one day while teaching my 3/4's in the gym. I tell them I am waiting in a quiet voice. If this does not get their attention, I say, "TIMING!" The class must then be quiet for ten seconds before we move forward. If one person talks or makes a purposeful sound (real coughs and sneezes are excused), I say, "Starting again." I have never had to wait for more than forty seconds (and often no more than ten) since developing this strategy.

Third Grade Student Teacher

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I am also a third grade student teacher. My co op uses all of the same strategies to gain the attention of the students and I have yet to find one that works best for me. I did however observe my students in their art special. The art teacher uses this to gain the student's attention: " I need your attention in 3..2..1" What is great about this is the teacher can speed the counting up or down depending on the students' responses. Maybe we both ought to give this a try! Good luck!

Third grade teacher from South Carolina

Response for Serena

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There is one thing that has been effective that several teachers in my school use. It is the rain stick. The teachers will turn it upside down three times. The expectation is clear to the students that by the third time they should be quiet and ready to listen. This may not work for you, but it might be a little more natural for you. Clapping patterns did not work for me either.

Attention grabber

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As a fifth grade very interactive math teacher, who coaches different sports have noticed that the whistle is definitely an attention grabber. When I split up my students into groups and the time is up for discussion I blow my whistle and say this phrase, "When I talk! they all respond right away, We listen and when we talk you listen!" They love the fact of the initial shock of the whistle being blown. In addition, the phrase alone speaks for itself. I explain to them if you were talking would you want someone else to be talking at the same time, and ofcourse their response is no. So with that respect in mind, by me stating, when I talk you listen, the students are engaged in a group discussion with me and the rest of their peers. It is definitely a great way to catch their attention. So if you can purchase a whistle and use the phrase. Let me know if it works.

Site Supervisor: After School Program

I say this little rhyme and

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I say this little rhyme and it always gets there attention:
"One, two, eyes on who?"
and then the kids reply:
"One, Two, eyes on you. Ziiiiip"
I let them elongate the zip. It gives them a chance to get that last bit of noise out before I need there full attention.

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