Teachers Who Get Kids to Listen
do great teachers get kids to listen?
know how bad teachers try to get attention: yelling, screaming, threatening,
even blowing shrill whistles. Ewwww! But there are better ways.
consultants Harry and Rosemary Wong, authors of the popular book, The First Days of School, applaud the
methods of Barbara De Santis, a New Jersey teacher whom they call one of the
most effective teachers in the country. Among other things, she can get the
attention of her students in less than five seconds.
She just tells the class: "GIVE ME FIVE."
The she counts aloud, and the students have a "word picture" for
each number that relates to the five fingers:
1 - look at the teacher
2 - be quiet
3 - sit still
4 - keep your hands free
5 - turn only your head
Then the students are
all set to listen.
The Wongs wrote of this
successful, organized teacher: "Barbara has taught for five years and came into
teaching from private industry on a career change through the New Jersey
alternative certification program.
of the traits of career changers is that they come from the private sector
which is procedure and results-oriented. For the most part, they are
intelligent, confident, mature, professional people who have come from a
background that values results. Thus,
producing student achievement is part of their culture of generating results. Student
achievement is their forte!"
This teacher has developed a script
for the first day of school, meeting her pupils in the hallway and guiding them
to their seats in the classroom, arranged in alphabetical order. There's
already an assignment on the board, called a "Do Now." Classical music is
first words out of her mouth to the pupils is that she has high expectations
that they will have a wonderful year together. Order and cleanliness within her
classroom are paramount. Self-reliance is key. There's a PowerPoint
presentation on her classroom procedures, and daily homework reviews to keep
each student on task. Everything is built around strong academic skills and
what she calls "conscientious citizenship."
example of the self-control and quiet she builds in to her classroom: manners
are stressed, and everybody uses sign language - no yelling and screaming here.
And it's a tremendous way to get kids to pay attention and look at whoever's
speaking. For instance, the sign for "please" is made by placing the flat right
hand over the center of the chest and moving the hand in a clockwise motion. The
sign for "thank you" is made by touching the lips with the front of the fingers
of the right hand. The hand should be an "open-b." Move the
hand away from your face, palms upward. Smile. (To see these and other
signed words, go to http://www.lifeprint.com)
A big student favorite is her interactive,
three-step procedure called "Get it; Got it; Good!" She'll ask a student if he
or she understands the idea; if so, the student will reply "Got it!" and the
class all replies "Good!", in "indoor voices." Her method is thought to make
students of all ability levels respect each other and celebrate each other's
more about great teaching, and an excellent archive of stories about teaching,