For many , classroom management is a challenge. Without various strategies in your back pocket, attracting your students’ focus can be hard. In today鈥檚 classrooms, raising your voice to capture your students鈥 attention is ineffective and, frankly, may just scare students, which can put a strain on your relationship with them. Instead of using your voice negatively to gain attention, many teachers are using more creative and innovative strategies to engage their students.

Call and Response Techniques

Call and response techniques are an age-old method to gain attention. However, teachers are getting creative and turning old, boring into new, unique responses that require students to participate in the classroom actively. Here are a few verbal attention-getters teachers have shared online that use humorous or fun phrases to engage their students. These attention-getters involve students because they require an immediate response. Feel free to be creative and change them up.

Teacher: “Macaroni and cheese.”
Students: “Everybody freeze.”

Teacher: “Hocus pocus.”
Students: “Everybody focus.”

Teacher: “Ready to rock.”
Students: “Ready to roll.”

Teacher: “One, two.”
Students: “Eyes on you.”

Teacher: “One, two, three, eyes on me.”
Students: “Three, two, one, talking is done.”

Using Music and Sound Effects

or any type of sound effect while transiting between activities or just when you need your students’ eyes on you is a great way to gain their attention without having to raise your voice or use your voice at all. At the beginning of the school year, select a specific song or sound that represents when students need to stop what they are doing immediately to focus on you. This can effectively allow students to quietly transition from their task to you without any loud disruptions. Enlist the help of your students when choosing a sound or song to enhance their engagement.

Ideas include:

  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Nature sounds
  • Animal sounds
  • Short clips of classical music
  • Popular TV show theme songs
  • Digital sound effects

Visual Aids

A powerful non-verbal cue to draw students鈥 attention back to you without having to use your voice is to use . Visual aids can be an effective method because they clearly understand what is expected of students. They also cater to visual learners who may find it easier to remember something that they鈥檝e seen rather than heard. Additionally, they are a non-disruptive reminder to focus on you, the teacher, without disrupting the flow of what is currently going on in the classroom.

The following visual aids may cater to different learning styles.

  • Countdown posters
  • Red, yellow, and green signal light
  • Hand signal chart
  • Interactive whiteboard

Hand Gestures

Nonverbal attention-getters like are a great way to manage the classroom because they are nondisruptive ways to communicate with students. By establishing a hand gesture, you reduce the noise level and interruptions that other signals may cause. Before implementing any hand gestures, clearly define what they mean and routinely practice them. Additionally, adjust signals if you find they aren鈥檛 working or add more if you find they are working.

Try these non-verbal attention-getters:

Teacher: Lifts hand to signal 鈥淕ive me five鈥
Students: Respond by raising their hands.

Teacher: Touches their ear to ensure students are listening.
Students: Respond by touching their ear.

Teacher: Holds five fingers up and puts one down at a time for a silent countdown to be quiet.

Lighting Cues

You may recall when you were a student the simple flicker of the light switch would signal it鈥檚 time to quiet down, get back to your seat, or face the teacher. This signal for quieting down or starting something new can draw attention in a matter of seconds. The reason teachers did it back then is the same reason teachers still do it today, it works. This non-verbal cue quickly captures the student’s attention without saying a word.