It’s your responsibility to gain and retain the attention of the students in your group. I don’t think you can expect students to automatically grant attention to you as speaker/leader just because you’re an adult or just because you’re up front. Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts of getting and keeping their attention.
- DO use a strategic “cue”
- “In just moment I will count to 3 and when I get to 3 I want everyone’s attention to be on me with no talking to your friends. Ready? Here we go…1…2…3.”
- “Knock-Knock …”
- Leader: “Sharkbait!” Students: “Ooohaha!”
- “Raise your hand if you’re not talking.”
- Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap
- Use a symbol of power to indicate who has the right to speak
- Think ahead and come up with your own strategic means of gaining attention.
- DO use creative story-telling. Do this to get their attention for opening message or lesson opener.
- DO be respectful and gracious, kind, and loving if you have to redirect the group.
- DO be the adult and stay in control of the group’s dynamics.
- DO be clear and concise with any instructions, announcements, and messages. Plan ahead, prepare what you are going to say.
- DO clearly communicate your rules to all students.
- DO have a clearly outlined pathway for how misbehavior is handled. Ours is 1. Request 2. Reset 3. Remove 4. Release
- DON’T demand their attention or respect just because you’re the adult or leader.
- DON’T ever shame or embarrass a student in front of other students.
- DON’T use vague statements like “You better shape up!” or “Stop screwin’ around!” Be specific, clear, and positive in stating what you want them to do instead.
- DON’T ever use any sort of punishing tactics with any student in front of the group.
- DON’T expect them to follow a rule you haven’t communicated.
- DON’T let your own emotions get involved.
- DON’T let the behavior of one student ruin and monopolize the experience of the entire group. This includes not letting them monopolize your attention or emotions.