One topic that always comes up when discussing the student-centered model in the classroom is classroom management. A lot of days it is a work in progress, but over time your students really do understand what is expected of them and how to behave in that type of class. Many teachers wonder if there are any successful strategies for getting students attention in this environment. One of the biggest reasons why teachers will drop the student-centered model without giving it a chance is because the first or second time they try it, and the students aren’t fully aware of the expectations of behavior, it is a little bit overwhelming. That doesn’t mean it stays like this forever, and the students just need to be trained on the proper way of engaging in this methodology. There are a few things that can help with student behavior, namely keeping everyone on track and listening. As I mentioned before students in a learner-centered classroom can get very loud with everybody engaging in the activities that they are working on. However, short of having to yell, wave your arms, and jump up and down, there are ways to get everybody’s attention when you need to without losing your voice.
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Quick Strategies for Getting Students Attention
The first two items below are two of my favorite to use in the classroom and are easily implemented as strategies for getting students attention. It is up to you to determine which one your students might respond to better. I have seen them both work in different classrooms with different groups of students with great results. Only you know what will work best in your classroom and what you can implement with the most consistency. They are not necessarily one-size-fits-all, but I have seen them used from preschool all the way up to seniors in high school, so there is no age requirement for either. So without further ado, here are the two items that are absolute must-have’s in your classroom to keep order.
This chime is hand activated and creates a nice tone that will help students adjust their focus. There is a soft hum that resonates after it is used, which helps bring together the silence of the room. I have seen some teachers create a system for the number of chimes the students hear and others create a procedure such as all students putting their hands on their heads when they hear the bell. It is not overpowering and does create a sense of calm. Below is a clip of what it sounds like.
They can be found here on Amazon. Below I have a video of a teacher in an art class with 35 students in it showing the effectiveness of the chime method, as she has called it. One ding and her protocol is for everyone to raise their hands. Check out how well they do with it (and how loud the chime actually is in a noisy classroom).
This thing is LIFE.CHANGING and will have you wondering both “Why didn’t I think of that?!” AND “How did I survive without it?!” This wireless doorbell has the “noise” piece that plugs into an outlet in your classroom and then a button that attaches to your lanyard (or is in a place that you have easy access to…maybe a clipboard you carry around, etc.). This particular one has 50 different songs that can be played. It is the same idea as the chime method from above, but it is movable, a little louder, and can be changed up by season, activity, etc. Look at this group of students reacting to their teacher ringing his doorbell.
The wireless doorbell can be found here on Amazon. This doorbell phenomena is really becoming the next “big thing” in classroom management and is one of the up-and-coming strategies for getting students attention. The company that produces this particular one, SadoTech, has a great “how to” video that also shows the excitement of the educators giving it a try.
Again, why didn’t we think of that, right?!
Non-Techy Strategies for Getting Students Attention
There are, of course, other strategies for getting students attention that do not cost anything. These may be a bit old school and will certainly require some student buy-in, but when executed properly, they are also tried and true.
The first idea is asking students in a normal tone of voice, “raise your hand if you can hear me”. You will have to do this a few times, but as hands go up, more students will notice and will do the same. This takes a bit longer to accomplish as it turns into the trickle effect, but it does get quicker as time passes and students are used to the routine (at the same time, if they are extremely engaged in an activity, it will still take longer to notice).
A second easy idea is to simply turn off the lights. Some teachers flicker them, but that, in theory, could trigger someone with Epilepsy, so I would shy away from that. With this, students will notice that the lights have gone out and that is their sign to quiet down. The only downfall to this is that the light switch does not travel with you and you will have to make your way to the wall where it is housed each time you wish to get their attention. This may or may not work for you, depending on how your classroom is set up.
Another way to keep your students cognizant of their time is of course by using timers. I love these from Online Stopwatch. There are a ton of different scenarios to set up and the kids pay attention to them because many of them are contests and they, without fail, all want to see if the one they pick ends up winning.
These simple devices and ideas are great strategies for getting students attention in the student-centered classroom. While they may be simple, they’re effective when you need to get the attention of everyone in the classroom without the need to lose your voice (or sanity) in the process. Have any other great ideas that aren’t listed? Feel free to leave them in the comments. Thanks for reading.