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.


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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Try a different type of clap response?

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I always liked to use the "if you can hear my voice clap once. If you can hear my voice clap twice. If you can hear my voice touch your head. If you can hear my voice say gravity (or some other related vocab word)." This allows you to adjust for attention ability at the moment, while even engaging the students in a little bit of content. It still uses clapping, so isn't too different from the classroom teacher, but is different and your own.

I sing to my third graders. I

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I sing to my third graders. I sing "Hey third graders" in a sing-songy way. they sing back "Yes Mrs. Walker" and it is amazing oh much attention it commands. They love it and I can them give my directions.

Biology Teacher in the Making!!

Throughout my life I has

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Throughout my life I has always struggled in grabbing the attention of a group. When my students start to work on a task, it has seemed nearly impossible to regain their focus. I have observed teachers that have the natural talent or the voice to reconvene the class; my professors at Pepperdine appear to do so effortless. A commanding voice is not something I was blessed with, and this has proved to hinder my effectiveness in the classroom. I recently bought zenergy chimes at the suggestion of other teachers. Does anyone have any other suggestions of older students?

Director, Antioch Center for School Renewal

When I taught High School, I

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When I taught High School, I struggled with that as well. I finally had success when I asked the kids what they preferred. It was different for different groups, but typically they had passionate feelings about the light switch (hated it). I didn't like trying to yell over them- hard on my voice and I felt like it set the wrong tone. We came up with two things pretty regularly. First, when I would go to the front of the room (rather than circulating around) and ask the kid right in front of me to tell the kids next to him that I needed their attention (and so on and so on) and when I turned off the music during work time. Sometimes I would put a sign on the overhead counting down the number of minutes until I needed their attention- that helped as well. I used a timer- a loud one- sometimes too.

Mostly, though, I tried to make sure that I didn't need to interrupt them too often.

K-5 Instructional Technology Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Like Shelagh, I'm a big fan

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Like Shelagh, I'm a big fan of "If you hear my voice clap once, etc." It works well for me, and is just different enough from what most of our teachers do (clap patterns) that it can gather together a small group or the entire school lining up at the beginning of the day very quickly.

I train educators to use a coaching approach in their teaching practice

All the suggestions here have

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All the suggestions here have merit.

I would like to ask Serena Murillo what SHE now feels is right for her, in her situation as she sees it now, paying attention to what she wants to create with her students, and respecting the environment that the school and other teachers have already created.

And, I would encourage Serena to continue the search for what works with the next class, starting by noticing what's different about the new class and adapting to it intuitively.

Second Grade Teacher

This is my first year as a

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This is my first year as a full time teacher. I have been a substitute within my district for four years. I have had many opportunities to see what works and what doesn't work. I use many different attention grabbers in my classroom however, there is one that my students just love (and so do I). I will say "Red Robin" and the students respond with "Yum". I put my own little twist on this though, however long I hold my hand in the air is how long they have to hold the "Yum." This is a quick and fun way to get their attention.

First Grade teacher

Hi Serena, I am also a

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Hi Serena,
I am also a student teacher and sometimes feel uncomfortable doing certain attention grabbers with students. One attention grabber that I find to be successful, and is used across all grade levels at my school, is when the teacher says "1,2,3, eyes on me" and the students respond with "1, 2, eyes on you". At first I thought this might only be applicable to primary grades, but I have found this works in most situations, and I have even heard 4th and 5th grade teachers use it with their students. Hope this helps!

Community Manager at Edutopia

Hello all, Thank you to

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Hello all,

Thank you to everyone who participated in this discussion. We've distilled the responses down to 25 general strategies and assembled them into a single document.

We wanted to give credit where it was due, so each featured strategy includes a quotation from the comment it came from and attribution to the educator who made it.

You can find the presentation here:


Check it out!

5th grade

In my school we teach the

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In my school we teach the students to reply "yes, yes" when we say "class, class" we change it up by saying it fast, slow or three times, sometimes we say classity, classity, and they reply yesity, yesity. But we have also changed it for holidays - "Santa, Santa" rely "Ho, ho. ho" The bottom line is they know where ever they are, they answer, stop what they are doing and listen. Good Luck!

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