Students are talking. You need their attention. You start to talk, but the students don’t stop. You try to talk louder, but the students get louder. Soon, everyone is yelling trying to get their voice heard. If you’ve experienced this, it’s time for you to implement attention getters for students in your classroom.

Attention getters are simple, often repeatable communication techniques used to gather your student’s attention. They should be quick, and different than the regular procedures and noises of the classroom. Instead of raising your voice to command the focus of your students, you engage them in a pattern of words, music, or actions. Once this pattern becomes habit, it is very easy to recapture the attention of your students!

Traditional vs Culturally Relevant Attention Getters

Attention getters are also an amazing way to validate and engage students whose home culture doesn’t match the cultural norms of school. Have you ever had a student look at the ground when you address them? This could be a sign of respect in the student’s home cultural, rather than a sign of disrespect. For some students, talking loudly, finishing a social conversation, or blurting out an answer isn’t wrong behavior – rather, it’s the behavior of the culture they grew up in.

The idea of cultural behavior is a complex and large topic. If you are interested in learning more, I suggest reading Dr. Sharrocky Hollie’s book, Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Learning.

When applying the idea of cultural relevance to attention getters, it’s important to use both traditional and culturally relevant attention getters.

6 High Quality Attention Getters

When using attention getters in your classroom, it is important to use both traditional and culturally relevant attention getters. Traditional attention getters help students practice the skills they will need to succeed in school. Culturally relevant attention getters validate and allow students to user the skills they have to succeed in your classroom.

Below are six high quality attention getters that I have used with great success in my own classroom!

3 Traditional Attention Getters

Here are 3 traditional attention getters I have used with great success in my own classroom!

Simple Countdown

The Simple Countdown is exactly as it sounds. Slowly and calmly, start with a reminder, and count down from 3. Give another reminder, and count down to 2, then 1, and then 0. By 0, students should be quiet, with their eyes on you. Here’s how I’ve used it.

“Eyes on me in 3.
Voices off in 2.
Tracking me in 1.
And, 0.”

At that point, students should be quiet, with their eyes on me.

Wind Chime (or other Audible Reminders)

Using a calming chime, tone, or other audible reminder is a great way to grab student’s attention. This works particularly well with certain students who have different sensory needs, as the chime is much more calming than a raised voice. Here’s how I’ve used it.

On my phone, I have a very calming alarm. During short periods of work (usually during a 2 minute activity), I use the alarm to alert the students that work time is up. It has a calming effect, and lets students know that their attention should begin transitioning back to me – and I never had to say a word!

The Emergency Stop

Sometimes, you need your student’s attention quickly, with no delay. An attention getter like this one should only be used in an emergency. It should be quick, and to the point. Here’s what I’ve used.

I turn off the lights in my room, and say, “SOS Stop” loudly, but without yelling. The lights give my students a visual alert that something is different – and they know when I say, “SOS Stop” that their attention is 100% required, now.

This is only used for emergencies, so it doesn’t happen often. But if there’s important information that the student’s safety depends on, I need to get it to them quickly. This is how I do it.

3 Culturally Responsive Attention Getters

Here are 3 culturally responsive attention getters I have used with great success in my own classroom!

Copy My Rhythm

Rhythm and music is a large part of many student’s home cultural. This attention getter also works very well with younger students. The idea is to use clapping or knee slapping in a rhythmic pattern, and have students copy that pattern. Here’s how I use it.

I will walk near a noisy group of students, and then start a clapping rhythm. The noisy group will hear it first, and repeat the rhythm. I’ll start a different rhythm, and they’ll repeat it. By now, a few more groups have caught on. By the time I repeat my third rhythm, most students are repeating it.

The rhythms I use are 1-2 seconds long.

Call and Response

Speaking is such an important part of culture for many students – so let them speak! A call and response attention getter allows students to speak, while refocusing their attention on the teacher. Here’s what I’ve used.

Sometimes, I’ll use a call and response that reinforces what I want students to do, like, “When I say bring it you say back. Bring it ______. Bring it _______.”

Other times I’ll use something relating to youth culture, like, “When I say Fort, you say Nite. Fort, _______. Fort, _______.”

Quick Movement

Movement is so important for students, not only culturally, but also for their physical development. To the delight of our school’s physical education teachers, I incorporate movement as much as possible! Here’s how I do it.

I will give students a short amount of activity, and then a reminder. It looks something like this:

“3 jumping jacks, then eyes on me!”

This is a good transition into a movement activity. For example, transitioning from work time to room cleanup.

More Resources for Attention Getters

If you’re looking for more information on Attention Getters, I suggest the following two resources.

Below is a button for a free online resource that includes more traditional, and more culturally relevant, attention getters. Did I mention it’s free?

If you need more information on how to use attention getters in your classroom, or how to be more effective with them, click the button below. It is a complete guide I created about successfully using attention getters in your classroom. It includes more attention getter ideas, how to implement them in your classroom, helpful tools for your classroom, and a student assignment!

You can find a ton more information online about attention getters by using a simple google search. I will say, that most of the other information out there is surface level. Most other sites just give you what to say – they don’t explain how to practice it, how to become a more efficient classroom, and what other tools could be useful in getting the attention of your students. If you’re looking for more, the button above is will solve your problems!

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