Teachers of all levels (including adult learners) need an efficient tool to gain student attention. In face, I bet you've also participated in a meeting or professional learning experience in which the speaker spoke a catch phrase or raised his or hand to gain the attention of the audience.
While there are hundreds of attention signal ideas to choose from, the best attention signals are in line these best practices:
The signal has both a visual and auditory component.
Students need to be able to see the signal if they are engaged in a listening activity, and hear the signal if their eyes are engaged elsewhere.
Note: One of my favorite attention signals is a simple, silent hand raise. It's not really silent, however. As students raise their hands in response and/or direct their eye contact and attention to me, I am busy giving verbal and nonverbal "thank yous" and praises. Click to see a video example!
The signal is mobile.
You must be able to use the signal anywhere within the classroom and on campus. Don't restrict yourself to the light switch or noisemaker.
The signal is taught and modeled explicitly for students.
Be sure to model perfect and imperfect student responses. Think: What does it look like to follow the procedure correctly? What do you consider to be incorrect?
Students have the opportunity to practice their response to the signal.
It is recommended to practice every day during the first few weeks of school.
Teacher gives feedback and praise consistently.
This is the most important step! Always praise students who follow the procedure correctly. Remember, our goal is to make it more motivating to follow the procedure than to ignore it.
The class reviews and practices the attention signal as needed.
We want to receive all students’ attention within five seconds. Will you count down with your fingers? Verbally? If students do not meet the five second goal, it’s time to reteach your expectations and increase feedback.
What is your favorite attention signal? How do you teach this procedure to students? Share with us in the comments below!