How do you get the attention of children?
In their book The Will to Lead, the Skill to Teach: Transforming Schools at Every Level, Anthony Muhammad and Sharroky Hollie say,
“Effective classroom managers are able to capture the attention of their students at a moment’s notice. Attention signals should intrigue students and motivate them to listen attentively as the teacher gives further directions, transitions to a new activity, or winds down the class.”
SALAMI – Stop And Look At Me Immediately
Not everyone is a SALAMI teacher. Even teachers with bags of classroom presence need some slices of ‘salami’ techniques to support them.
Slapping a ruler on the desk could work. Yelling and turning the lights on and off might also do the trick but they are archaic classroom management techniques that are intimidating and ineffective.
If you are a primary teacher then you’ll have windchimes, rain makers, bells and whistles along with various attention getters, ‘call and response’ or ‘call back’ phrases up your sleeve that help as classroom management staples. These draw on catchphrases, songs, musicals, characters or popular trends where you say something and the whole class respond in unison as a choral response. They build habits of compliance and they are energetic, active and spirited.
Call and response techniques are normally built into positive behaviour management expectations, routines and expectations and they can work effectively for getting ‘all eyes and ears on you’. They work as stand-alone ideas or work in conjunction with the tried and tested rhythmic ‘clapping pattern’ (….clap..clap… clap, clap, clap) response used by all primary teachers as well as arms folded and finger on lips.
These can’t just be parachuted into a lesson and be expected to work ‘from the off’ but require some initial groundwork. Some are ‘old’ and may need a bit of extra input via a YouTube clip to help children understand a certain phrase or song but once embedded (which doesn’t take long) you’ve got a few options to call on.
Variety is the key and it’s important to change these ideas regularly so that things don’t go stale as children will get bored and their effort to respond will be lack-lustre. As always, a lot depends on how much emotional and physical energy you inject into the ‘calls’ so remember to give them some oomph! They are fun, they work and children can invent their own and suggest them for inclusion…a bit of ownership goes a long way.
Here are some that could try. Some will be for you and others you’ll turn your nose up at but there should be something for everyone. They are playful and add a bit of colour, music and life into the class and children look forward to what you might have ‘up your sleeve’ next!
You Call / Children Respond
|You call||Children respond|
|1,2,3, eyes on me…||1,2, eyes on you|
|Eyes on you…
Talk no more!
|3,2,1…||our talking is done!|
|Alarm, alarm…||let’s be calm!|
|Hi Ho, Hi Ho…||it’s off to work we go!|
|Hey, Hey…||yo, yo!|
|Zip-a-dee-doo…||zip-a-dee-ay, my, oh my what a wonderful day!|
|Everyone in the house…||is as quiet as a mouse!|
|Un, deux, trois…||On ne parlez pas!|
|L – I – S…||T – E – N!|
|When I say peace, you say…||quiet, sssshhhhhh (whispered)|
|When the hand goes up….||the mouth goes shut!|
|Good, better…Best!…Never let it…Rest!…||Until your good is…Better!…And your better is the…Best!|
|Hocus Pocus…||time to focus!|
|Piece of pie…||piece of cake!|
|Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase…||it means no worries for the rest of your days!|
|Macaroni and cheese…||everybody freeze!|
|Ready to rock…||ready to roll!|
|I get knocked down…||but I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down.|
|Scooby Dooby Doo…||where are you?|
|Are you ready?…
Are you quiet?…
|Hands on top…||everybody stop! (with hands on heads)|
|www dot…||button it dot com!|
|Zip it, lock it…(act out zipping and locking lips)||put it in your pocket! (children act out zipping and locking their lips and putting the key in their pocket)|
|I am on a quest…||to be my very best!|
|Quiet in 5….||4,3,2,1 (reduced to a whisper)|
|Wop bop a loo bop…||a lop bam boom!|
|Winner, winner…||chicken dinner!|
|Hey, good lookin’….||whatcha got cookin’? How’s about cookin’ something up with me?|
|Ready to listen….||ready to learn!|
I like potato….
I like tomato…
Let’s call the whole thing off…
And we like potahto…
And we like tomahto…
let’s call the whole thing off!
|I’m incredible…||Like the Hulk…Grrrrrr (children flex their muscles and pull an angry face)|
|No bees, no honey…||no work, no money!|
|Fruit salad…||yummy, yummy!|
|Are you ready shipmates?
Crew, crew, crew…
|aye, aye Captain!
Aye, aye, aye!
|Chicka chicka…||boom, boom!|
|Oh me, oh my…||we will try!|
|In the jungle, the mighty jungle…||the lion sleeps tonight!|
|Oh Mickey, you’re so fine…||you’re so fine, you blow my mind, hey Mickey!|
|Zip, zip, zap…||we’re all that!|
|Parlez-vous Francais?||oui, oui, oui!|
|If you don’t climb the mountain…||then you can’t see the view!|
|Twinkle, twinkle litter star…||time to tidy up where you are!|
|Hands in the air…||like you don’t just care!|
|Chitty chitty…||bang, bang!|
|Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?…||Spongebob Squarepants!|
|Here I come to save the day…||Mighty Mouse is on his way!|
It’s time to listen…
|Yakety Yak…||don’t talk back!|
|One fish, two fish…||red fish, blue fish!|
|Chica, chica, chica…||boom, boom, boom!|
|Alligator, alligator…||chomp, chomp, chomp!|
|Stop Right Now…||thank you very much!|
|The name is Bond….||James Bond!|
|LOUD, LOUD, LOUD…||soft, soft, soft!|
|It’s time to hear the penny drop…||drop, drop, stop!|
|A hush fell over the room…||Shhhhhhhhh!|
|Reading, writing, arithmetic…||too much homework makes me sick!|
|Hold your head and hold it high…||we’re Year 5 flying by!|
|Magic finger in the air…
Magic finger on your hips…
|magic finger everywhere!
magic finger on your hips!
When all else fails, spray ‘Quiet Spray’ around the class!