Tips and Tricks for Getting Your Students' Attention

Call and Response Attention Signals for Your Elementary Classroom

Students raising hands in classroom
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One of the biggest challenges teachers face is getting (and keeping) their students' attention. Learning to do so takes time and practice, but effective teaching requires it. Here are 20 attention signals to help get your students' attention. Plus: simple strategies to get them to hang on to your every word.

20 Attention Signals

Here are 20 call and response teacher attention signals to use in your elementary classroom.

  1. Teacher says, "One, Two" - Students' response, "Eyes on you."
  2. Teacher says, "Eyes" - Students' response, "Open."
  3. Teacher Says, "Ears" - Students' response, "Listening."
  4. Teacher says, "If you can hear me clap once, if you hear me clap twice."
  5. Teacher says, "Hear Ye Hear ye" - Students' response, "All eyes on the queen."
  6. Teacher says, "Give me five" - Students respond by raising their hand.
  7. Teacher says, Peanut butter" - Students say "Jelly."
  8. Teacher says, "Tomato" - Students say "Tomahto."
  9. Teacher says, "Ready to Rock?" - Students response, "Ready to Roll."
  10. Teacher says, "Hey" - Students respond with "Ho."
  11. Teacher says, "Macaroni" - Students respond with "Cheese."
  12. Teacher says, "Marco" - Students respond, "Polo."
  13. Teacher says, "One fish, Two Fish" - Students response, "Red Fish, Blue Fish."
  14. Teacher says, "Silent Guitar" - Students respond by playing air guitar.
  15. Teacher says, "Silent Wiggles" - Students respond by dancing around.
  16. Teacher says, "Hocus, Pocus" - Students response is "Everybody focus."
  17. Teacher says, "Chocolate" - Students response, "Cake."
  1. Teacher says, "All set" - Students say, "You bet."
  2. Teacher says, "Hands on top" - Students say, "That means stop!"
  3. Teacher says, "Chica Chica" - Students say, "Boom Boom."

Tips for Getting Students' Attention

  • Practice, practice, practice! Go over your attention signal until your blue in the face.
  • Praise students for getting (and doing) the signal correctly.
  • Make it fun! Change it up and say (or do) the signal fast, or slow, soft or loud.

Tips for Keeping Students' Attention

Once you figure out which attention signal works best for you and your students, your next job is to keep their attention. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

  1. Create interactive hands-on lessons - Students are more apt to stay engaged when they are actively involved in the lesson. Try a cooperative learning lesson or use classroom learning centers to keep students engaged.
  2. Get students up and moving - Help students refocus their energy by getting them up and moving. Play a learning game sitting on their desks, have them stand up while working, or take a break every thirty minutes where students get up and do a series of quick exercises.
  3. Change the scenery - The monotony of the everyday routine in the same room, learning the same way can be dull and boring for students. Once a week, change it up by teaching outside, in the hallway, or any other room other than your classroom. This is a surefire way to get and keep your students' attention.

More Tips and Ideas

  • Wear bright clothes
  • Use humor in your lessons
  • Videotape your lesson and play it to your classroom
  • Have students take notes
  • Play background music
  • Give students a checklist of what they need to know
  • Turn the lights off while teaching a lesson
  • Have students use a computer or iPad
  • Have students take photos during a lesson that pertain to the lesson