What is the one thing you do, consistently, every time you need the attention of your pupils?

Thanks for the excellent contributions. I’ve included as much as possible here. I’ve also added a short video clip and some further reading if required. Of course, these are merely suggested examples of good practice. If you’ve any other additions to make, either in writing or in link form, you can add them to the comments section.

  • Sometimes I ring a hand bell – the novelty factor seem to work if it is an occasional thing
  • With S1,2 and 3 I use a countdown. I stand at the front of the class and I countdown from 5,4,3,2,1.
  • Call their attention and then wait, standing at the front of the class or for younger pupils I count down from 5 with my hand in the air.
  • Simple instructions at the start of the lesson – something like, “OK folks, coats off,  jotters open, have a look at the starter question.”
  • After a short interval, I would then cajole/harangue any pupils not following these instructions
  • I just pause and remain silent until they settle

……….”listen up!”…………………………………….Ask for it 3 times then pick out individual pupils who are still talking by saying their name.

  • Lower school classes – clap or play a rhythm and they answer it back.
  • A raised hand also works well.
  • Playing a short piece of music and asking the pupils to be ready when it is finished is successful with my senior classes and allows pupils to get the materials they need and to finish off conversations.
  • I am not sure consistency is the key and find that employing a variety of strategies to gain the attention of pupils works better.
  • Lighting change if in the Drama studio or just hands up or 3-2-1 Freeze.
  • I raise my presence, like Gandalf when he wants a hobbit to shut up. This is verbal and physical, but not magical.
  • Whistle !! ( probs not appropriate for classroom)
  • Count down works as well
  • I have three different stages of this, depending on response:

“Can I have everyone’s full attention, please?” Then 3… 2…1…   Then hold up arm , look at watch and silently count time (impacts on packing up time at end of period).

  • A wee funny anecdote usually get their attention
  • For S1 pupils I clap my hands in a rhythm and then they copy me! Used a lot in primary schools so thought it would translate easily to S1 pupils.
  • Probably a couple of taps of the board-pen on the table, followed by “Your attention, please,” or similar polite but assertive phrase …  Sometimes the raised hand helps.
  • I always say that I will wait until I have everyone’s attention and don’t start until there is complete silence and everyone is looking at me.  It was one of the first things I learned (the hard way of course!).
  • I usually just ask for their full attention – normally I would stand up in front of them and look around as I ask them.  If they have been working on something which is timed I remind them that time is running out and ask them to finish what they are doing to get their attention.
  • Normally counting down from 3/5 depending on the class..
  • In order to gain attention with Room 1 pupils I repeat their name and use visual cues wherever possible.

Further Reading:

The Craft of the Classroom by Michael Morland

Beyond Discipline by Alfie Kohn

Classroom Behaviour by Bill Rogers

Why Are You Shouting at Us? by Phil Beadle

Shorter Blog Posts:

Top Ten Tips For Behaviour Management by Alex Quigley

That Nightmare Class – by Lisa Jane Ashes