Tried and Tested Attention-Getters to Keep Control of your Classroom

An unruly classroom can often be tricky to navigate. Getting students' attention and bringing them back down to a calm and normal noise level can sometimes be a daunting task.

We have some tried and tested ideas to help you gain back control confidently and effectively.

Calm A Noisy Classroom

Now more than ever, teachers have to find inventive ways to get their students back on track. Attention-getting tools have been a teacher’s secret weapon for generations. Whether at the preschool or high school level, they are effective in regaining control of a wild bunch of students. 

Attention getters are typically associated with younger populations. However, upper-level classes can benefit from the quick and easy tools as they require an instant response from students. This instant response will calm the room and get them back on track!

Attention-grabbing techniques work best with repetition. If you introduce them to your class at the beginning of the school year and use it repeatedly for the first few weeks, they should become habitual for your students! It is important to remember that students will have more than one class at middle and high school levels. Therefore, they may be learning more than one (or two, or three) of these attention-getting tools simultaneously. This is why practice makes perfect! 

Related content: Attention Getters Classroom Tools

Check out these 12 tried and true attention-getting techniques to calm even the most unruly classrooms!

Teacher ''No bees, no honey.”   
Students: “No work, no money!”


Teacher: “Freeze! Everybody, clap your hands!” (Cha Cha Slide Beat)    
Students: (Clap their hands seven times)

This one is great for students that need to move! It lets them make purposeful noise and exert energy through clapping. However, depending on the class, some students may take it as an opportunity to be rowdy.


Teacher: “Hakuna…”    
Students: “Matata!”


Teacher: “If you can hear me, put your hands on your head.”    
Students: (Put hands on heads)

This is essentially, a quick game of Simon Says without Simon. There is no need to yell with this one. As you play quietly, the rest of the class will catch on.


Teacher: “Shout-out to _____ for being ready.”
Give the students who are focused and ready to learn a shout-out. For a humorous spin, you could say, “Shout-out to _______ for being my favorite student! They are ready for instruction.”

"Attention-grabbing techniques work best with repetition. If you introduce them to your class at the beginning of the school year and use it repeatedly for the first few weeks, they should become habitual for your students!"

Give Me Five
This one is a calm countdown. Simply raise your hand with all five fingers up, and count down aloud to one. Students mimic your movements. As they get used to this tool, you can eliminate saying the numbers aloud.


Use a chime or pleasant-sounding bell to grab your students' attention and signal that it is time to be quiet.


Project a countdown on the board or use an alarm clock with a visible countdown. Train your students to be silent before the timer reaches zero.


Lights off
This idea would be more effective with older kids than with elementary students, as the younger kids may be startled. Try turning off the lights, wait for the class to settle, and continue instruction.


Whether you have a whistle or you can whistle yourself, it works as a simple behavior management tool.


Toy or button with music
We have all seen those “easy buttons.” There's quite a variety that could act as fun attention grabbers!


Clap in a specific sequence and have the class mimic your pattern. This is another idea that allows your students to exert energy purposefully.


We hope these 12 attention-getting techniques help your students focus quicker! If you are looking for extra support here, visit our Classroom Management hub, where you’ll find our best classroom management resources, from room set-up advice to behavior modification articles to effective teaching methods. 

About the author

Stephanie Belcher


About Stephanie

Since graduating with a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education and Teaching, Stephanie Belcher (B.Sw., M.A.) has worked in education in various capacities. She has been a… Read more

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