Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Last week I published my updated Teaching Procedures and Routines Packet (which btw, was the #1 selling product on all of Teachers Pay Teachers last week...consider me proud). 
It lists all of those nitty gritty things that need to be taken into account in order to be effective in the classroom. High on that list, in terms of importance, is “getting the students’ attention.” You’re going to be in charge of getting an entire room of little people to stop what they are doing and turn their focus to you so that you may share your pearls of wisdom. 
That’s not always easy.
But, if you plan ahead, you’ll have a collection of ways to magically get a room to go from noisy and chaotic to attentive.
In my classroom I always use the catchphrase, “ready to learn.”
We talk a lot about what “ready to learn means.” It means they are looking at you. It means they are listening to you. They are focused. Their hands are not fidgeting with found objects. Their bodies are still.
This needs to be defined. It needs to be modeled. It needs to be expected. Once you have established what it means to be “ready to learn,” you can add in different ways in which you will signal to the class that you need their attention and they need to be ready to learn.
The secret is to find a balance. You need to keep things fresh so that the children don’t get bored and zone out when you are clapping patterns and calling for a response in song, but at the same time you don’t want to mix it up so much that they aren’t clear on the expectation. I recommend introducing 1-2 new methods a week, keeping a few standbys and changing up the others.

To make this task easier, I suggest you have a list of attention getters at the ready. I keep mine in my teacher organizer binder, but you may prefer to hang it on the wall near the door or your group area.

And definitely be sure to place a copy in your Emergency Sub Plans - your sub will love you for it and the day will run much smoother in your absence.
I have created a resource that includes a list of attention getting ideas. It was designed as part of my Blackline Design Collection.  You can access and download it here: {Attention Getting Strategies List}

What do you do to get your class’s attention? 

For more tips and ideas on organizing and managing your classroom please check out my Clutter-Free Guide. This post is part of:
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  1. Me: First Grade, Give me 3! Kids: 1-2-3-Whoop! They count the numbers on their fingers and then put the three on their mouths. The "Whoop" came accidentally the first year I was teaching. I was modeling for the class and the sound came out and the kids kept doing it. So I went with it. I've kept it the last 3 years!

    I also like the "ready to learn" phrase. That is one of my rules, but I don't think I've done a good enough job explaining that.

  2. Thank you for sharing. This is an area that I have always struggled with, but having a list printed out will definitely help. I'm a 5th grade teacher, and I enjoy your teacher tips!

  3. Some of my personal favorites are:
    *Teacher: Mahna Mahna / Students: Do do dah do do [THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE!!!]
    *Teacher: Scooby Dooby Do / Students: Where are you?
    *Teacher: Yo ho Yo ho / Students: A pirate's life for me!
    *Teacher: Hakuna Matata / Students: What a wonderful phrase!
    *Teacher: Just a small town girl / Students: Living in a lonely world...
    *Teacher: When I say go, you say Giants! Teacher: Go/Students Giants! / Teacher: When I say Buster, you say Posey! Teacher: Buster/Students Posey! / Teacher: When I say Fear, you say the Beard! Teacher: Fear/Students the Beard! etc. etc. [although the beard will probably be sidelined for Melk Men this Fall...last year during football season I did teacher: Whose got it better than us? / Students" Nobody! .... gotta teach my kids about SF sports young)

    Whoa, that's a lot, hope that helps!

    1. Ohhhhh, I'm so glad I saw this! I taught Buster in high school, so you know which one of these I like best! You just made. My. Day! (And what a night he had tonight! I'm going to watch him in person against the Braves tomorrow night.)

    2. He killed it tonight! 5 RBI's! We follow the Giants in my classroom in the Spring and part of the unit is doing bios on players and Buster is one of the most fought after players, by my 4th graders.

    3. I'm sending Buster's mom a link to your post. She teaches, too, so she'll appreciate this. I told her about it at Wednesday's game, but I'm not sure she believed me. It's still sort of surreal to them, I think, that he's become so well known. Our town is really small -- less than a mile in diameter -- and yet Buster, Luke Bryan (who has his third #1 country song out now) and Phillip Phillips (new American Idol) are all from here, so of course, we're pretty proud of them all. But Buster has grown up with my own kids, and he has a special place in my heart. He has always been such a super guy. REally studious, a committed Christian, and just an all 'round good guy that everybody likes. He and his teammates have been unbelievable this year and have almost converted this die-hard Brave fan. * Sorry, ClutterFree, for the sidelined conversation here.

  4. I do the 1,2,3, eyes on me chant like you. It's simple, and it works. I even have them point at me when they say "eyes on you" so that they have to stop what they are doing and actually look at me. I can usually start it very quietly and the other students will join in, so I very rarely have to yell, and unlike turning lights off, I can do it from anywhere in the room!

    I love MissRachelSF's ideas, though! So creative :) I might have to bring those in every once in awhile to shake things up!

  5. Okay... I am through blog stalking you, subscribing to your updates and following your shop. I just can't stand it anymore. I have to say something. You! You are just so amazing, and kind and thoughtful to share all of these wonderful ideas, and resources with us. I don't know if you TRULY understand how much you, your blog, videos and store are appreciated, but PLEASE know right now, that you are LOVED and hands down my favorite of all teacher blogs out there. You. Oh man, YOU are GREAT! Thank you.

  6. My favorites:
    T: Ready to rock? S: Ready to roll!
    T: Ba da ba ba ba! S: I'm lovin' it!
    T: Goodness, gracious S: Great balls of fire!
    T: Hocus Pocus S: Everybody focus!
    T: All set? S: You bet!

  7. I usually use "3, 2, 1" ... if everyone is quiet the first time I count back, they earn a class point. It takes a bit of practice, but they really like earning those points!

  8. Love Jenny Brown's HOCUS POCUS! I whisper one word or direction until every child is doing it

  9. Since I do the Daily 5 and CAFE, I use a bell in my classroom to signal that the students need to look up at me. It works really well. One day, I had a parent in my room and we were having a birthday party. The parent and I were visiting at the kidney table and I accidently hit the bell.....All the students turned and looked at us.....complete silence!! I was taken back. I didn't realize how well that bell worked. The parent and I just giggled once the students continued with the party.

  10. Hocus Pocus is so cute! I teach 5th grade and I often feel like I can't do the cutesy rhymes- In my class I like to count backwards from 5 and hope they they are ready BEFORE I even reach 1. I also put up my hands as a silent signal and like a snowball effect, most everyone will shush and put up their hands as well.

  11. I say, "I need your attention please." I raise my hand up high in the air. The students know they are to 1. Stop what they are doing. 2. Eyes on me. 3. Put their hand up in the air. This way other students that may not have heard me see everyone else in the room with their hand up & looking at me & they look to see what's going on. A classroom management at our district office taught me this- I wasn't sure how effective it would be but it works wonderfully. :)

  12. I do a couple different chants in my room. I teach 5th grade.
    Teacher: everybody listen
    Students: right now!

    Teacher: we are here
    Students: for an education
    Teacher: an education
    Students: is hard work
    Together: let's get to it! Or. Let's rock & roll!


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