Are You Listening?

Whether teaching online or in person, there will be times when you need to stop the class and say something. Here are 3 ideas for getting your student's attention that won’t grate on their nerves like shrieking at them.
Whether teaching online or in person, there will be times when you need to stop the class and say something. Here are three ideas for getting your students' attention that won’t grate on their nerves like shrieking at them.

1) Call & Response

You’ve probably heard them. Like saying, “Mona,” then having students say, “Lisa.” If you live in Ohio, like me, you’ll be familiar with the Ohio State Buckeye cry of “O-H” followed by “I-O.” They can be useful and will come in handy when the principal walks in and wants to greet your class.
I’ve written a blog post just full of ideas that you can use if you want to hear some more ideas.

2) If you can Hear my Voice ...

I picked up a really fun idea from a lady that was doing a series of professional developments for our school before we opened up a new building. We all know that teachers can be the worst students! The great thing about this idea is that you don’t have to “train” your students (or adults) on how to do this ahead of time. You simply say, “if you can hear my voice, put your hand on your head” (in a quiet voice). Then go on to something else, like, “if you can hear my voice flap your wings like a chicken”. Make them as silly or as simple as you want. Kind of like playing Simon Says! Eventually, the people chatting will catch on and want to play along. By then you’ll have their attention and you can thank them before moving on to what you really wanted to say.
Here are some ideas:
... put your hands on your head.
... clap once.
... clap twice.
... hold your pencil in the air.

One really clever variation I hear about was to say, "If you can hear my voice, point to someone who is talking". Repeat quietly (as needed) until they are all pointing at you.

Another is to say an artist's name, (or a series of artist's names, if needed).  For example, "If you can hear my voice, say, Michelangelo." 

3) Clap & Respond 

I learned this one from a music teacher. Part of what he was teaching them was to repeat back a rhythm that he clapped. Usually, it started with clapping to the rhythm of 1 - 2 - 3& - 4 then students would clap back long, long, short, short, long claps. Next, he would clap a different rhythm to a 4-beat measure and students would clap back the same rhythm. Usually, by the 3rd time (worst-case scenario during a Christmas assembly), he would have the student’s attention. This same idea can be used in the classroom or lunchroom, etc. once you’ve trained the students on what to do.

Quick Tip: It doesn’t work in a room full of adults who have no idea why you are standing in front of them clapping your hands. But you could say, “if you can hear my voice, clap your hands like this”. 

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