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How to Get Students’ Attention

We’ve all been there. It’s time for a transition in the classroom and no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to get your students’ attention.

Before breaking out into a song and dance (or tears!), we’re here to help you figure out how to get students’ attention in no time. Instead of struggling, give one of these attention-getting strategies a try!

How to Get Students Attention in the Classroom

Getting Students’ Attention

In teacher prep classes there isn’t a lot of discussion about how to get students’ attention. There are strategies for helping your classroom run smoothly and ways to improve behavior, but all of those assume that students are actually paying attention to begin with.

Before any of those management strategies can work, getting students’ attention is key. Here are some ways to make that happen.

Ring the Doorbell

Technology has come a long way and a simple wireless doorbell can save your sanity. When you need students to pay attention so that they can transition to a new station, get ready to change classes, or just because ring the doorbell! It’s a distinctive enough sound that students will pay attention and do what they need to do.

Try this one out and see if it helps get your students’ attention!

Display a Timer

Sometimes transitions are difficult because students don’t know when to expect them. One easy trick is to display a timer on the board. It helps students keep track of how much time they have left and makes it a lot easier to get their attention when it’s time because they’re already anticipating the change.

This one is free that you can use and project onto a wall or board.

Transition Chant or Song

Younger students tend to respond well to chants or songs at transition times. The familiarity makes it a comfortable transition and it doesn’t require a lot of repetition to get their attention. Songs and chants can also be used at the start of class to get students’ attention and help them focus on the tasks at hand.

Example: Teacher says “1 2 3…” and the students say “eyes on me!”

Play an Instrument

Whether you’re a fan of the harmonica, a ukulele buff, or a maraca master, playing an instrument is one way to quickly and easily capture students’ attention. Don’t worry if you’re not great at playing it, the worse you are the more attention you’ll probably get anyway!

Flick the Lights

As simple as it sounds, turning the classroom lights on and off quickly can be a wonderful way to get your students to pay attention. You don’t have to raise your voice, no one can claim that they didn’t hear you, and there’s no cost involved. Just a quick on-off-on-off will be enough to have the majority of your students looking at you and ready to transition.

Side note for this strategy – this may be a triggering event for seizures, so use with caution and check with the families first.


Whatever you do to get your students’ attention, just make sure that it’s consistent and that you teach them what you expect when you’re giving the signal. Before long, your students will be pros at paying attention when they need to.

What strategies have you tried in your classroom? Share in the comments below.

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I'm a special education teacher, presenter, curriculum writer, and educational blogger behind Mrs. D's Corner.
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