To be fully present in the moment is the essence of learning. As a teacher I constantly watch kids to see who is on task and who is off in their own little world. It can be challenging for even the most skilled teacher to keep a class of 27 or more kids all focused and in the moment.
I happen to be a visual learner, so I know firsthand that if I see something done I will learn much more quickly than just hearing how to do it. If I can hear how it’s done, see how it’s done, then do it myself…even better! I think sometimes we as teachers forget that kids are all different. Some come to school with no sleep, no breakfast, and dysfunctional homes that could wreck anyone’s day. Some have learning disabilities that may not have been diagnosed yet. It is a lot to handle, and my heart goes out to the teachers who do this day in and day out without losing their patience or their minds.
Here are a few things that might help you as a teacher to get students attentive in class:
- First and foremost, it starts with you. If you are grumpy, sleepy, or hungry, you will not be at your best. You have to be ready from the ring of the bell to come out with energy and excitement. You may have to tell yourself, “I think I can, I think I can.” LOL.
- Try to figure out what learning style works with each child. I know that is a lot to ask when you have that many kids, but the sooner you do, the sooner you can speak to them in ways that will engage them. Get to know your kids individually. Make a concerted effort to spend some time with each child and see what works and what doesn’t. It will make the day less stressful for you both if you do.
- Get creative and think outside the box. When I take over a class for a teacher the kids love it. You know why? I make it fun. I laugh with them. I sing! I walk funny on purpose just to get their attention. I am not afraid of looking silly because I know the kids need to laugh too. They need to lighten the burden they are carrying like we all do. I am not saying you have to be like me. You be you. Just get creative and do things from time to time they don’t expect. Music is a great ice breaker with kids. Use it, and by all means use visual aids whenever possible.
- When you see much of the class is off task it is time to take a brain break. Use GoNoodle or some other fun video to just give the kids a few minutes to get the blood flowing to their brains again. I love GoNoodle for the creative and fun songs and dances that they do…and the kids absolutely LOVE them.
- You will figure out pretty quickly which kids are the ones who need extra help. Can I suggest something? Concentrate on READING. If they can’t read, they can’t do any other subject well. Help them read first and foremost. Get them tutoring and get the parents involved if possible. Start a book club. Make it fun. Give them a challenge and if they reach it they get a pizza party or something exciting to them.
School does not have to be dreaded. If your kids come to your class day in and day out with dread on their faces, you need to look in the mirror and change what you are doing. Most of you that read this are dedicated teachers who love teaching and love kids. Hopefully, whatever category you fall into, you gained a tip or two that will help you get even the most challenged students on task.
P.S. Don’t give up on them. They need to know that at least YOU believe in them. You can be the one who helps them get on course and reach their potential. Begin by teaching them to read, and by all means, love them through the process.