Engaging students from the first moment in a lesson is an art form. In a day where students hunger for instant gratification and often require an entertainer as opposed to a teacher, this unique set of student engagement strategies fits the bill.
We as teachers experiment with many ways to capture student focus: counting down, clapping, raising our hands, and so on. With varied student populations at any age or level, in any setting, the “Whole Brain Teaching” call and response technique is truly a best practice. This is an effective attention-getter before or at any time during a lesson. Using call and response, the students respond verbally to the teacher with the same inflection and tone with which they were called. This strategy calls students’ attention to the speaker, allows them to speak while giving the speaker their attention, and requires their response and engagement. At the point of response, students are engaged and open to the information being presented.
For instance, when utilizing the “Class” call and response at any given point during the lesson, the teacher begins by saying the word “class” any way he or she prefers, and the class in turn is responsible for mimicking the teacher’s voice and volume level by responding “yes.” So if the teacher says, “Hey class!” then the students respond, “Hey yes!” Likewise, if the teacher says “Classity-class!” then the students say back to him or her, “Yessity-yes!” This strategy gives students the opportunity to respond appropriately, while giving them a needed verbal release during instruction, and allowing them to enjoy mimicking the speaker. The sillier, the better — student focus increases!
An additional call and response technique to increase and sharpen student focus is ”Hands and Eyes”. This strategy can be utilized at any point during the lesson as well. When students need to refocus, the teacher simply says, “Hands and eyes on ___.” Students respond in turn by focusing their attention on the chosen person or object (such as the board) and clapping their hands together, leaving them clasped in front of their bodies. At the same time, students are also responding verbally by repeating the words of the teacher in the same manner. This method, again, gives students the opportunity to speak out during a time when they are quiet and listening, and allows them the opportunity to have fun mimicking whomever is speaking, while focusing their attention in a novel way.
There are many other “Whole Brain Teaching” strategies to be explored and utilized within the classroom. These two call and response methods have been proven timelessly effective. In a day when capturing and maintaining student focus is increasingly difficult, these techniques are among the best practices in the educational realm. If you have more ideas, please do share in the comments!