One of the most important skills a teacher needs to have is the ability to get the attention of the class. And, that is no less important for subs... in fact, it might even be more important. Classroom teachers typically have their go-to attention getters, and they know that it is vital to teach these attention getters at the beginning of the year. It's no good announcing, "Give Me 5!" And then the students are confused about what that means.
As a sub, I usually try to figure out what attention getters the students are familiar with... and especially what ones the classroom teacher uses. Those will be the easiest ones to use since the students were taught how to respond to them. Some ways to figure that information out are to ask another teacher on the team, or ask a reliable student. If finding out is proving difficult or if the one used is not one you are comfortable with, then I highly recommend choosing one of your own and spending the first moments in class teaching that skill. How do you go about teaching students to respond to an attention getter?
1) Tell Them. They need to know what attention getter you will be using. Tell them you will use Give Me 5, a quiet sign, a bell, or whatever you choose. And post that information somewhere so the students will be reminded.
2) Teach Them. Then you must let them know what you expect them to do when they hear the attention getter. I like to use students as examples. Little ones often respond to using a stuffed animal as a model. Walk the students through the expected behavior. For example, in a call and response attention getter, the students need to know what to say to say after you give the cue. And they need to know that after they give the response, then they must look at you and be ready to listen.
3) Practice! Finally, you must practice. Give the students something to do, then after a few minutes use the attention getter. Be sure to give feedback like "Not bad. Let's try again." Or "I love the way the red table came to attention immediately. Let's keep trying." Practice multiple times until you feel confident that every student knows what to do. Keep in mind, you may have to remind them throughout the day.
Here are the Attention Getter Posters I made. I did a set in a Polka Dot Theme and a set in a Monkey Theme. They are only $1.50 for nine posters that have the sayings of:
• Give Me 5: The teacher says this and holds up 5 fingers that stand for stop talking, sit up straight, feet on the floor, hands still, and eyes on me.
• 1, 2, 3 Eyes On Me: The teacher says this, and students respond "1, 2 Eyes on You."
• Hocus Pocus Time to Focus: The teacher says "Hocus Pocus," and students respond with "Time to Focus."
• Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: The teacher says "Chicka Chicka," and the students respond with "Boom Boom." This one is good one for kinder and firsties since it's based on the alphabet book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
• SALAME: This is pronounced like the Italian lunch meat. The teacher says SALAME, which stands for Stop And Look At Me. I usually accompany this one with my hands around my eyes like binoculars.
• All Set You Bet: The teacher says "All Set," and students respond "You Bet"
• If You Can Hear Me (Follow Directions): The teacher says, "If you can hear me, put your hands on your head" or whatever action you choose. The students follow the directions to show they are listening.
• Class Yes: This one is from Whole Brain Teaching and has lots of variations. The teacher says "Class," and the students respond "Yes."
• Blank poster for you to write a favorite of yours if it is not included.
I have my favorites laminated and carry them to my sub jobs. Then I can just pull out the one the teacher uses or I plan to use and post that on the board.
One last piece of advice. Don't use the attention getter too much or the students will tune you out. If they are having trouble coming to attention, then you probably need to practice more.