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  • Writer's pictureFelicity Neeson

6 ways to get your students’ attention

When working with students it is essential to have a range of ways to get their attention when you need to. While it can be tempting to yell, doing so too often will diminish its effectiveness and may also lead to a sore throat! Here are 6 of our go-to ways to get a group’s attention:



1. Raise your hand


Felicity from Yellow Arrow Leadership raising her hand to get the attention of a group of students.

Raising your hand to get your students' attention is a very simple and effective option. Teach the students that when you raise your hand, they must follow suit and stop talking. This is particularly effective when everyone is chatting and some participants have their back to you.


2. Play Music


Music is a very effective tool when working with groups. It can be used to set the tone, change the energy and signal what is next. You can teach the students that a certain song is the cue to gather so that whenever you play that song they must return to their seats. If you are working across a very large space, you can also ask students to yell “GATHER!” or a different appropriate word whenever they hear the song or someone else yelling “Gather!” so that the word can spread to those out of earshot.




3. “Do as I say, not as I do.”



This one is a bit of fun as well as a brain-bender. Say to the group “Do as I say, not as I do” and then add an instruction and do a different action. For example, clap your hands while saying “Do as I say, not as I do: stomp your feet.” You can also swap the instructions around, e.g. “Do as I do, not as I say.” More and more students will tune in as they notice their peers doing the actions.



4. Have a call and response


Establish a phrase that you can yell that has a set response from the students. For example, you yell “Fish and…” and the students all yell “Chips!” It works particularly well if the students help to choose what the call and response is so that it is something they like.



5. “If you can hear me say hey!”



Yell out “If you can hear me, say ‘hey’” and then get progressively quieter as more students join in. You can change the words they must say each time as well, e.g. “If you can hear me, say ‘octopus’” or “If you can hear me, say antidisestablishmentarianism!’”



6. Use bells or a gong


In a similar way to music, you can teach students to stop talking and gather when they hear you play the bells or gong. Once you have their attention, don’t be afraid to wait until you have complete silence before you start talking. It can be intimidating to wait, but if you start talking before there is full silence then you will teach then group that it is okay to talk over you.



What are your go to ways to get a group’s attention? Let us know in the comments!

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