May I Have Your Attention, Please?

It’s often said that teachers must have a “bag of tricks”.  If teachers need a bag, then substitute teachers better have a whole trunk! There aren’t many jobs more challenging than that of a substitute teacher, but with a bag, or a trunk, of tricks it can be infinitely easier.

Close your eyes and picture a classroom equipped with dimmable lights and a microphone. When you were ready to teach, you could dim the lights, get on the microphone, and say in a big, deep voice, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?”  A hush would fall over the classroom, and your audience would wait with bated breath for the wisdom you are about to extol.  Okay, time to wake up, because that’s not happening! But…you can pull some tricks from your trunk to get the attention of your learners.

The Whisper

Whisper? You’re thinking, “That’s insane!”  Often times in the classroom, teachers try to talk over students.  The kids are loud, so the adults in the room get louder.  Some teachers can handle that level of noise, but not all, so what do you do? Whisper.  Maybe not a full-blown whisper but a very quiet voice.  If they want to hear you, the decibel level has to drop.  Those that want to hear you will help to quiet their peers.  The noise level comes down, and you can teach or give directions. 

The Whisper-Clap

This trick will likely work quicker than the plain old whisper.  With this strategy, position yourself next to a student who was designated in the sub folder as being helpful. In a low voice, say, “If you can hear my voice, clap three times.”  The student, and potentially some others, will clap.  In that same low voice, say, “If you can hear my voice, clap four times.”  More students join the clapping, and at this point, those who aren’t are looking around and wondering why their classmates are clapping.  If you repeat the process a third time, you will typically have all the students clapping.  For good measure, end with, “If you can hear my voice, clap once.”  The classroom is quiet.  You didn’t have to scream.  You can proceed with your agenda.

Finish My Line

If the students are finishing my line, they’re talking.  Isn’t their talking going to interfere with getting their attention? Not necessarily! Let’s face it.  Kids like to talk.  We just have to find a way to get that talking to work to our advantage. To utilize this method, start your day with the students explaining how this is going to work. Tell them that you are going to say something, and then they are going to respond, and then get quiet after they say their part.  It’s best to practice a few times, because getting instantly quiet after they say their part can be tricky, but they catch on quickly after practicing a few times.  Sing out, “Red Robin,” and the students will instantly respond with, “Yummmmm.”  Another favorite is, “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” which will promptly be followed with a resounding, “SpongeBob SquarePants.”  Just pay attention to catchy jingles and theme songs.  You will have an arsenal of attention grabbers at the ready, and the kids will have fun getting quiet.  It’s a win-win!

Until all those classrooms get equipped with dimmable lights and microphones, keep pulling from your trunk of tricks and keep visiting SubSidekick, and you’ll make substitute teaching look easy! Don’t hesitate to contact us as you continue to grow in your career as a substitute teacher. 

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