5 ways to keep and hold your students’ attention


Gaining and holding your students’ attention is easier said than done! Learning how to keep students engaged is a skill that experienced teachers have nailed. Here are my tried and tested methods for keeping your students interested in your teaching.

Gaining and holding your students’ attention is easier said than done! Learning how to keep students engaged is a skill that experienced teachers have nailed. Here are my tried and tested methods for keeping your students interested in your teaching.

1. Adjust your pitch

Changing the pitch of your voice can work at getting the attention of children of all ages. Where I’ve seen this applied best though, was a Prep (Foundation) classroom. The teacher I observed did an amazing job of grabbing the attention of 5 year olds and then, even harder, keeping their attention! This is how she did it.

Change of activity. Children move to the floor and are unsettled wondering what they will be doing next. Teacher goes to sit on the wooden stool and pretends to fall off! *loud voice* “oh my goodness!” *children giggle* (attention obtained). Teacher *normal voice* “We are going to learn about shapes.” *children shift in their spots and start to become unfocused ... teacher tunes in instantly and lowers her voice to a whisper* “... and I’m going to tell you what my favourite shape is...” *children lean in to hear* (attention obtained again) *teacher raises her voice again excitedly* “...I wonder if you can guess which shape is my favourite?” *students raise their hand*.

The above example might sound over-the-top but only if you’ve never taught 5 year olds! They lose focus so easily. This is why Prep teachers look so tired all the time!

Middle and upper grades can also have this method applied but not as often.

Gaining and holding your students’ attention is easier said than done! Learning how to keep students engaged is a skill that experienced teachers have nailed. Here are my tried and tested methods for keeping your students interested in your teaching.

2. Vary your tone

Tone is so important. I think a lot of teachers forget their tone of voice impacts how children feel about the lesson or activity they are about to do. If you're excited - they will be too! If you hate teaching this subject, guess what...they’ll hate it as well. Watch your tone carefully and adjust it often to keep their attention. Monotone voices make you fall asleep and an overly excited tone can become tiring. You should be moving up and down with your tone to keep students engaged. Start a lesson with an excited tone “I’m so excited to show you...!” but move to a deeper flatter tone when stressing important information “the three things you really need to know are...”. Get the tone right and you set the stage for the mood of the lesson.

3. Be enthusiastic

There is nothing more off-putting than a teacher that starts an art lesson with “I don’t know that much about art but...”. This makes the lesson sound pointless and boring before it’s even begun! Get excited. Be enthusiastic about what you're about to teach and use real-world connections as often as possible so students can see the point of learning it. Act as you would want your students to act in this lesson. If you hate the subject, fake it till you make it. Find something to love about every subject and they will too!

Gaining and holding your students’ attention is easier said than done! Learning how to keep students engaged is a skill that experienced teachers have nailed. Here are my tried and tested methods for keeping your students interested in your teaching.

4. Be the most colourful thing in the room

This is an old teacher saying but it still holds true. Dress in bright colours to grab their attention but don’t over do it with accessories. It’s very distracting when a teacher wears lots of jewellery that clicks and jiggles as she teaches. Often it’s good to wear a darker bottom and a bright top so your students’ eyes are drawn towards your face. You don’t want them looking down for whatever reason.

5. Move around the room

The best way to stay on top of behaviour management is to use proximity as your secret weapon! Moving your body around the room also changes the level of your voice for students and lets them know ‘I’m watching you so tune in!’. If you're glued to the front of the room all day, you’ll lose their attention fast! If you’re using a laptop to smart board/whiteboard then you might consider mirroring to an iPad. This way you can still move the display, talk and be in all areas of the room.

The most important aspect of all of these points is to TUNE IN to your class. The minute you feel their attention wandering, you’ll need to mix things up. Good teachers tune in and adjust their teaching to suit their students. Not the other way around!

For more behaviour management ideas visit my Pinterest board here

Try these five easy steps and you will hold your students' attention for longer, creating more engaging classroom experiences.

Gaining and holding your students’ attention is easier said than done! Learning how to keep students engaged is a skill that experienced teachers have nailed. Here are my tried and tested methods for keeping your students interested in your teaching.

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