Classroom Management Techniques: Using Cues

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Using cues is a one of many effective classroom management techniques. To initiate directions or signal for students to shift their focus from one state of attention to 100% attention, it is necessary to use some attention cues.

We can use any word, signal or sound to signify that we need our students to be 100% attentive. However, over time the cue comes to represent all that is involved within the expectation, related to what it means to demonstrate quality attention and to take on the demeanor of a participant within a culture of listening.

For younger students, clapping a rhythm and having the students respond with the same rhythm can be very effective. In a physical education setting, a whistle can be a good choice. Some teachers find that silently raising their hand can act as an effective cue.

At the secondary level, a simple cue word is typically effective. There are many types of cues that are used to good effect. Find one that works for the needs of your students and you.

An effective attention cue is one of the best classroom management techniques as it elicits a response that is as much on the level of the unconscious as it is on the conscious mind. Therefore, it should possess autonomic as well as behavioral qualities.

Autonomic Response

There should be a behaviorally conditioned response to your cue. Students should respond in large part because it is automatic and unconscious, and less because they are making a situational choice.

Behavioral Qualities

The most effective cues are those that exist symbolically (a word, a sound, or a signal) and/or behaviorally (an automatic response such as clapping a response or chanting a refrain), not as verbal information (Elias & Schwab, 2006). They should not occupy conscious energy in the students’ minds. They trigger within the students an internal mechanism in which they raise the class’s level of attention, focus, and awareness.

What are some attention cues that would be appropriate 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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