What are the Different States of Attention in the Classroom?

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It is important that we explain the different states of attention to the students.It is essential that students know exactly what the expectation is for the different states 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 a given time. It may be useful to be explicit when changing attention states, by adding expectation language to any set of directions, early in the school year itself.

100% Attention

Whenever the teacher is giving explicit directions or another student is volunteering ideas, all students 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.”

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?”

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.”

Students are free to talk about anything that is considered appropriate in a classroom.

“I need you guys to hold tight for a few more minutes, so it is okay to talk, but we need to stay in our seats until the bell rings.”

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.”

Learn More… Take this course: Transformative Classroom Management – Strategies to Engage Positive Behavior

Discuss Here: How can you lay emphasis on the states of attention in the classroom?

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