Typically there comes a time during the week when your class might get squirmy or wriggly. Your students’ attentions are shorted out, and they just aren’t focused; maybe they are talking to their neighbor or not focused on the task at hand.
In these moments, it’s helpful to have some teacher tips, so that you can actually get that kid not paying attention in class to listen and give their focus to you.
The best teaching practices all say that yelling is not a great classroom management tool. Instead, it’s helpful to have some fun or unique ways to get your students’ attention. They’ll have fun and get focused, and you can get back to business.
1. Use a Chime or an Instrument
If you have a bell, a chime or another instrument handy, you can save your voice and let the instrument capture your students’ ear—and their attention—instead. Playing a small xylophone or strumming on a ukulele for a few seconds should be enough to quiet your students down and get them to settle into your lesson.
The plus side? This technique is fun, creative and positive. You don’t have to yell or get short with your students, and they’ll love the music break in the middle of class when you need to get their focus back on you.
2. The Give Me Five Technique
Another tip is the Give Me Five technique. The Give Me Five technique was coined by Harry K. Wong, author of “The First Day of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher.” When you need your students’ attention, hold up one finger at a time. As you do, have your students call out what each finger stands for:
- “Eyes look.”
- “Ears listen.”
- “Mouth closed.”
- “Hands still.”
- “Feet quiet.”
With the Give Me Five technique, your class should be quiet, focused and ready to learn within five seconds.
3. Take an Exercise or Stretch Break
If your students are getting antsy or are shifting around in their seats, it might be time to get their blood pumping with a stretch break or an exercise break. Especially at the end of the day or right before lunch, kids need a brain break. Spend two minutes stretching, dancing it out or doing jumping jacks, and your students should be ready to focus.
An extra tip? If your students are particularly squirmy, you may be able to spend five minutes in the middle of class doing some meditation. Taking a few minutes to calm their brains and slow their breathing will ensure your students are focused and ready to learn.
Check out these meditation apps designed for classroom use.
4. Give a Pop Quiz for Extra Credit
Let your students know that at some point during class, there will be a short, one-to-five-question pop quiz for extra credit (then save the quiz for the end). You’d be surprised how much better students listen when extra points are on the line.
5. Try the Too Noisy App
Too Noisy is an app created to help you maintain volume levels in your classroom. Sometimes just keeping a reasonably quiet classroom is enough to keep your students engaged and learning. Too Noisy is a way for your students to visually see the volume in the room.
Too Noisy monitors volume levels like a stoplight. The light starts at green, and as the volume rises, the light switches to yellow and then red. Students can monitor their own volume levels so you can always get their attention without ever having to raise your voice.
6. Stand in a Designated Quiet Spot
Tape out a square on the floor to be your designated “quiet spot.” Whenever you stand on the quiet spot and raise your hand, it’s a signal for your students to stop talking and pay attention. You gain their focus without having to yell or wait for conversations to end, and your students get a visual reminder to give their attention to you.
7. Establish Volume Zones or Volume Levels
You can help your students know how much side chatter should be happening in class by setting volume levels. You can either verbally or visually indicate volume levels for various portions of class.
Your students should be speaking at varying volume levels based on what they are doing in class. During your instructional time, there should be no talking, but during group work, focused talking is encouraged. Your volume zones might look something like this:
- Level 1: No talking
- Level 2: Whisper
- Level 3: Quiet talking
- Level 4: Recess
This also reinforces the idea that loud volumes only should be used outdoors and not in the classroom.
8. Come Up with a Call and Response
Come up with a call-and-response phrase you can say that your students respond to with a set answer. One of the more popular ones is when the teacher calls out, “One, two, three, eyes on me,” and their students respond with, “One, two, eyes on you.” However, there are all sorts of fun attention-getting devices out there that your students will find entertaining while still getting their focus back to where it should be.
Check out this list of 50 call-and-response suggestions. A favorite? “Macaroni and cheese.” “Everybody freeze!” And in a German language class, you can come up with your favorite German phrase to use.
9. Offer a Reward: Game-Based Learning
You can offer your students a reward of 15 minutes of educational game time at the end of the week—but only if they are focused and not talking. Each week, start with 15 minutes, and you can take away one minute whenever necessary. Students will quiet down and get focused to work towards having as much game time as possible.
And the games? They can be a great way to review content at the end of the week. Try bingo or Jeopardy to review German vocabulary, or play a trivia game to review German culture.
10. Spend Five to Ten Minutes Learning About Culture at the End of Class
The end of class is frequently the hardest time to hold your students’ attention. Keep this time relevant and exciting for them by using the last remaining minutes of class to share current events with them.
This is especially great for foreign language teachers. Share a contemporary hit song or movie trailer in German to keep your students engaged and learning German culture until the very end of class.
No matter if you’re looking for student teaching tips or you’ve been teaching for decades, there still will be times when your class loses focus. In these moments, it’s helpful to be prepared.
In your German classes, you also can come prepared with German books and other language resources to keep your students engaged and focused.
Need help finding these materials? Kinderbooks has a wealth of materials available to match every reading level, so whether it’s for storytime or individual reading time, your German students will have the perfect books to keep their attention.
German teachers also should sign up for our teachers’ affiliate program. When parents ask for German book recommendations, you have a unique, personal URL to share with them, and you earn rewards for every purchase made via that URL. It’s easy, and your students get the benefit of great reading material. What could be better than that?