There are two simple words every teacher should know. Well, I guess teachers better know hundreds of thousands of words in order to be able to communicate intelligently, but these two little words in particular are very powerful. These words are magical. These words will get your class to be instantly quiet, and they will immediately get the focus back on the teacher, or whomever the focus is supposed to be on. These words require no yelling, and are actually more effective the more quietly they are spoken.
It's as simple as that. If you are getting ready to teach a lesson, or if you just need to tell your whole group something, you only need those two words. Your students will know that what you are about to say is important and that they need to listen up. They will also know that their talking, being out of their seat, humming, tapping, etc. must stop before the day can continue.
I have been in classrooms where teachers feel they need to yell at and threaten kids to get their students' attention. I have also been in classrooms where the teacher starts talking and half the class isn't listening or paying attention. I can count on one hand the times I've had to raise my voice. I can also say that I make a point to be sure everyone's hands are still and everyone is looking at me before I start talking to my students as a whole group. I learned that lesson the hard way after watching a video of a lesson I taught while student teaching. I was up at the front of the room, completely immersed in the math lesson I was teaching. The lesson went exactly as I had planned, and I was excited to get to view the lesson and show it to my supervisor. Uh, that is until I played it back and watched in at a student siting near the camera who stared at the camera and made faces at it the. whole. time.
I learned to wait and survey the entire class to make sure I had everyone's attention before speaking. All it takes are those two little words.
I should also mention that you have to follow through once you say the words. If you say, "I'll wait" and then start talking before everyone is ready, it obviously won't work.
Here are a few variations for different situations.
I'll wait for you to be quiet before I give directions.
I'll wait for everyone to be in their seats before we get started.
Let's wait for everyone to be ready before you begin your presentation.
I just love how simple it is to tell students you'll wait on them. It makes them responsible for their actions. Also, it is a non-humiliating way to get that one student in line who seems to have his or her own agenda. If you keep having to stop and say "I'll wait" for one student, you better believe they'll get the hint. The best part will be that you didn't have to raise your voice or get upset. Also, you never had to call that student by name, which would have either humiliated him or given him the attention he was seeking.
There are so many fantastic ways to get students focused in the classroom. I know there are some awesome Whole Brain Teaching strategies that I can't wait to use. I just thought I'd share what works for me. Leave a comment and let us know what works for you!
On another note, I was interviewed by Teacher Certification Degrees recently, and here is the article!