Classroom Quick Fix: Attention

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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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How do you get attention without speaking?

If you need to get the attention of a boisterous class then consider the anchor technique. It’s a great way to secure the classroom ship when things get choppy. ‘Anchors’ is one of the many gems that appears in Rob Plevin’s book Take Control of the Noisy Class: From CHAOS to Calm in 15 seconds.

“This is a clever technique – it works like magic. It takes a little time to set up an anchor but once established they can literally work wonders with challenging groups.”

This also works wonders with classes that might not be necessarily ‘tough’ but may present low-level disruption issues or a few behavioural niggles that need ironing out.

How To Drop Anchor

1. Pick Your Spot

Choose a particular part of the class and a specific location where you will stand and anchor yourself. Tell everyone that this is the place where you will go whenever you need the whole class to stop what they are doing, to stop talking and listen.

2. Practice

Embed the anchor technique by walking round the room and then positioning yourself in your chosen spot until children get familiar with what to do. Stand with arms folded for added intent and don’t move or speak until you get total silence.

3. Make It Fun

You can make this fun by moving in and out of the spot quickly until the technique becomes ingrained and part of the class routine.

4. Recap

Clarify that using the Silent Spot might be used for different reasons: because the noise level has gone too high, to make a special announcement, for an emergency, etc  but the expectation is that once you step on the spot then silence has to kick-in immediately. It doesn’t mean that once you step outside of it that everyone can carry on as before!

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