Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!
The start time of every new school year varies from community to community, but effective welcome-back attention-getting tools and tricks work pretty much year-round. In fact, as the school year gets underway, any break in the calendar such as vacation time, teacher workdays, early release, etc. offer opportunities to create a sense of newness in your classroom.
Here’s a tried and true attention-getting trick that’s based on best friends forever…bring a dog to school! You know that K – 5 kids treasure their “BFFs, ” their “best friends forever!” Dogs, cats and other pets certainly qualify as “best friends” in the minds of children and many adults.
Okay, maybe you can’t literally bring a dog to school, because school rules usually disallow pets on campus premises. No problem, though, because you can share pics and poems and stories about your four-legged furry friends of the canine variety. (Cat-lovers can simply substitute meows for barks and go for the purr-fect attention that cats attract, instead of dogs!)
So how exactly do you bring a dog (or cat) to school to help students focus on learning? Here’s how…you stand in front of the class at the beginning of the school year, or the week ahead…you get the idea…and announce that “Mr. Perfect or Ms. Perfect will be watching as class gets underway.”
The kids will of course quickly ask, “Who in the world is ‘Mr. or Ms. Perfect?” to which you reply…”My dogs.” That’s when you show the class a large picture of your pup or pups and you circulate around the room so that everyone gets a good look at the furballs. Thousands of students I’ve taught are familiar with my dogs, shown in my blog pic here.
While the students utter sweet responses to the pics (guaranteed!) I like to tell two short stories about how Mr. and Ms. Perfect came into my family’s life. We’ll save the stories for another time – the key is that you HAVE A STORY TO TELL that draws in the class. I like to also read aloud the poems I’ve written in honor of my dogs. In abbreviated form they are…
What comes with the talent
To speak without words,
To make any day better,
Likes to chase after birds?
What comes ready to play,
Ever so eager to please,
FULL OF UNCONDITIONAL
(that means I’m going to get it no matter what) LOVE?
It’s my dog, Mr. Perfect!
Ms. Perfect – Rosie
Rosie has a funny, furry, curly tail
that wags whenever
we walk through the door.
You’d think that tail’d get tired
but no, Rosie barks
for biscuits and wags some more.
This is the moment that you announce that your dogs have volunteered to become class mascots and they’ll be cheering for good work throughout the school year. You say in a perfectly normal voice that you’ll be keeping Mr. and Ms. Perfect updated on how well your students are doing. You can even invite the class to write letters to your pups and this is where the trick takes off…you can specify types of letters you ask the class to consider. For example, as the school year gets underway, you can offer an opportunity for your students to send notes to the dogs you’ve brought to school that tell about any problems the kids are having. It’s amazing what children will share with animals that they withhold from human adults!
Another related attention-ology trick is to schedule a day for your students to bring their own dogs or cats or hamsters or other pets to school via pics. Set up a pet show on a classroom bulletin board and invite your students to pick a pic and write a poem about their own pet or another animal in the “show” that they’ve chosen to feature.
Bark (or talk) about attention-getting tricks...you can also pack up little plastic bags of inexpensive dog biscuits or cat treats to give your students to take home at the close of your classroom pet show. The kids will love this!
All the while, your pet tricks offer the opportunity to motivate your students to do good work in school so that you and they can report positive news to the dogs or cats you’ve brought to school. Hope you agree that these ideas are dog-gone good or the cat’s meow for your class this school year!
Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!
Talk with you next week,
Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet