What Are Your Attention-Getting Super Powers?

 Do you find it challenging to quickly gain your students’ attention throughout the day? One of the most powerful, classroom management tools I learned to utilize was a consistent attention signal.  

  • An attention signal should include an auditory and physical component.

  • The attention signal should be utilized wherever you might have your entire class—outside, on a field trip, or within your classroom. Therefore, if you want to use a drum as a signal, you need to have the drum with you wherever you go!

  • There are a variety of times when an attention signal should be utilized. The attention signal can be used to indicate the need for a transition, giving additional directions to the entire group or during a loud activity within the room.

  • It is important to stick to one attention signal for your class. I recently observed a classroom in which the teacher used four different attention signals which seemed to cause confusion and lack of attention.

  • Students need to understand the importance of an attention signal. Emphasize to students that one of your jobs as their teacher is to keep them safe and that you may need to get their attention quickly.

  • Refrain from overusing an attention signal for the entire class.  Consider whether it would be more appropriate to address children individually or in a small group.

  • Success of an attention signal depends on ensuring that students understand the expectations and that procedures are rehearsed. Once an attention signal is given, students return the signal and the teacher waits until the entire class responds.

Let me explain how I have utilized the attention signal with numerous classes, regardless of age. I sing the phrase, “Are you ready?” and raise my right arm. Students are taught that the expectations are that when I sing the signal, they need to stop moving, immediately direct their eyes toward me and respond by singing, “Yes, I’m ready.”  The classroom expectation is that everyone responds to the signal within 3 seconds. When I first introduced the signal, I used a stopwatch and would time my students to see how fast they could respond!  At the beginning, I also utilized the signal at different times of the day and in different settings to ensure children were responding appropriately.  What has been your experience using attention signals?

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Training Spotlight

1st-3rd grade educators worked together to learn engaging ways to develop number sense. Students will develop fact fluency while playing games that use their number sense strategies. By learning their facts in this way, students are not merely memorizing, but rather learning to work with numbers flexibly.  “Low achievers are often low achievers not because they know less but because they don’t use numbers flexibly – they have been set on the wrong path, often from an early age, of trying to memorize methods instead of interacting with numbers flexibly.” Jo Boaler,  Stanford University, 2009

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April 8, 2019

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