Getting the students’ attention when transitioning activities is one of the most important behavior management tools that a teacher can have. The energy that accompanies that attention-getting will impact the energy of the new activity.
When I first started working at LWS in Beaverton, I was struck by the much calmer ways that the teachers got student attention. It was much more going with the flow of the children, working to channel their energy, rather than trying to change it. This gets to the heart of what Education for Life strives to do.
In most schools, transition times are rather jarring. Teachers use often use a loud call and response to get student attention. The most common is the teacher calling out “1-2-3 eyes on me” to which the students yell back, “1-2 eyes on you”. The teacher is ordering the students to pay attention and the students agree to this order, though they are not given a choice. If the description sounds militaristic, the actual experience is even more so.
The opposite is not jarring, but is just as uncomfortable to observe – a meek teacher, afraid to step into her roll as an authority, quietly begging the children to stop talking and pay attention. Many minutes of valuable learning time are wasted by this teacher and some students may never get engaged.
There are ways to channel the children’s energy. It can be just as fast as a call and response and just as calm as the meek teacher, but much more effective. It also sets the energetic tone for the next activity.
An EFL teacher looks at the energy the children are already in, and rather than fighting it or being overwhelmed by it, channels it into more productive ways. This month, we will look at the variety of ways that this can be done.