10 Surefire Ways to Keep Your Students on Task
When teaching a large class, it is imperative to keep your students' attention on the learning task. As soon as one child starts to lose interest or fool around, the domino effect will happen. As other children withdraw their attention, the main thrust of your lesson has lost its power. Try implementing some of the following techniques into your teaching routines. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the results.
(1) Be consistent. Absolute consistency is the key to a smoothly run classroom. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Create rules and guidelines for your class and stick to them. Children are comforted knowing that classroom standards will be followed.
(2) Develop routines. Develop daily routines for your learning tasks. Youngsters respect and thrive on routines. If they generally know what happens next in the routine, they begin thinking and preparing for it before you even mention it!
(3) Plan transitions. Changing gears and transitioning from one subject to another is a crucial time. Transition time should be only two to three minutes long (depending on the grade level). But if students don't have guidelines, they'll begin to play.
(4) Be prepared. If lesson supplies are not organized or easily accessible, students will have to wait. As they sit at their desks with nothing to do, they will become fidgety (which is contagious).
(5) Demonstrate respect. Respect is a two-way street. Having and showing genuine respect for children as individuals inspires them to do the same for you. It will motivate them to work harder for you.
(6) Move around. An easy remedy to keep students' attention during a lesson is to move around the classroom. Don't always stand in the front of the classroom or sit behind a desk. Walk around and observe who seems to understand and who doesn't. If a student is not listening or acting appropriately, do not call attention to him or her. Instead, stand by the student as you talk to the class and redirect what he or she is doing.
(7) Require whole class responses. Some children raise their hands all the time and others never do. When listening to a student's answer to a question, have the rest of the class give the thumbs-up if they agree with the answer or the thumbs-down signal if they do not. This will require everyone to pay attention and will give you helpful feedback.
(8) Vary learning opportunities. Develop a rhythm within your classroom by varying the ways in which children learn. Alternate between quiet activities and noisier ones. Also rotate group work with independent work, teacher-directed assignments with student-directed learning.
(9) Challenge them. All children learn at different rates of speed. Those who finish early can easily become bored and then turned off by school. Always have an action plan for students who finish before the others. Self-directed learning projects or learning centers are the perfect answer, giving those children an outlet for their creative energy.
(10) Use humor. Teachers who master the art of funny quips, anecdotes, or jokes have super powers. Injecting a little levity into a long day of lessons and classwork captures your students' attention and motivates them to participate. The trick is to make them smile or laugh, but then redirect them right back to the task at hand.