Attention Strategies in the Classroom

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It is essential that students know exactly what the expectation is for the current state of attention and what behavior is appropriate for that state. Often students are not sure what level of attention or amount of interaction is appropriate at any given time. Early during the school year, it may be useful to be explicit when changing attention state by adding expectation language to any set of directions.

Here are some possible attention strategies in the classroom.

1. 100% Attention: Whenever the teacher is giving explicit directions or another student is volunteering ideas, all members of the class should be listening attentively. “We have all got our eyes and ears up here and our hands free,” or “We are all giving Esther our undivided attention.”

2. Casual or Optional Attention: Often the teacher or a student spontaneously makes a comment while the class is engaged in a task. The comment has value to the whole, but the teacher does not think it worthy of stopping the class formally. “I see some really good examples of categories that groups are using to classify their items,’ or “Are we all making sure that we are doing a good job of executing the role that we have been assigned?”

3. Students are free to talk at a reasonable level about the learning task. “I should be hearing groups brainstorming ideas for their poster at a conversational level so that we can all hear ourselves think,” or “It is great to be talking as long as it is about the assignment.”

4. Students are free to talk about anything that is considered appropriate for a classroom. “I need you guys to hold tight for a couple more minutes, so it is okay to talk, but we need to stay in our seats until the bell rings.”

5. Students are required to be quiet so that others are able to work in peace but are not necessarily required to be attentive. “We all need to be completely quiet until everyone is done with the test. You are free to read or work on the homework, but we have to wait on any conversation until everyone is done.”

Using these attention strategies in the classroom can help you hold the attention of the students.

How do you keep the students attentive in your classroom?

From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Transformative Classroom Management – Strategies to Engage Positive Behavior

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One Response to “Attention Strategies in the Classroom”
  1. Ecaterina says:

    I teach PE. Subject requires a lot of interaction with each other. At the beginning of the year we agreed on the “One time saying” rule. I explain any activity we are going to do only once. As a result, they absorb information the first time I say it instead of having to replicate it a lot of times. It saves time, allow complete more tasks, and teaches students to pay attention to every word has said.
    Moreover, preparation is very important to productively getting students’ attention. When you have planed your lesson, you are better able to control your class. Organization means less time fumbling around and trying to figure out what to do next. You will always know what to do next if you prepare everything ahead of time. When you are organized, you keep students’ attention on task. This in turn, helps you to uphold the whole organization throughout the classroom.
    In addition, with my high school students I practice Exit words. At the end of the class students tell 5 most important instructions I gave during practice time. Sometimes I ask all student, sometimes choose randomly. It keeps their attention during the class.

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