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How to...gain attention

Hello. Hello! Anybody there?

Sorry, I didn't see you. Did you want something?

I was asking how I get the attention of my class.

Presence and preparation. Notice how some teachers can silence a class by just standing and staring - that's presence. Cultivate that aura which comes from confidence in knowing your job; expect to be obeyed. Kids sense doubt and fear. Stand facing the class, clap your hands three times and stare out anyone who does not respond immediately. Or raise your hand and wait until everyone has raised their hands too and are silent. Explain that you expect this of them; it will happen.

And if they don't?

Oh ye of little faith. It will happen. Be firm and resolute. Draw a clock on the board and draw "minutes" on it until they realise if they waste your time you will waste theirs. Make up lost time at break. Withdraw pupils'

privileges as and when necessary.

Now, how to keep that attention?

This is where your preparation comes in. You need to know what you are doing. Be focused. Take charge. Give a task immediately to interest them.

Start a purposeful lesson with a clear aim. Make your instructions concise and directed. Offer a variety of learning tasks, appealing to different learners and maintaining interest. Patrol the classroom, approving and praising where possible, frowning or questioning if necessary. A quiet word close up is more effective than a bellow from afar.

Presence and preparation, eh?

Yes, and high expectations. And the teacher's stare, it never fails to get a reaction

Duncan Grey is author of 100+ Essential Lists for Teachers and First Aid Kit For Teachers (Continuum)

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