The FAB 15 A-GEs – Attention-Getting Elements for Teachers

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus to introduce the first five of what I call The FAB 15 A-GEs – Attention-Getting Elements.

Attentionology is a science and an artAttention-getting elements can benefit teachers every single school day by supporting their curriculum and their strategies for classroom management. I’ll be writing in depth about A-GEs in coming weeks. Check out their 8 Great Benefits

…Teaching tools and tricks that incorporate attention-getting elements can be used to 1) begin class with a high energy level, 2) introduce units of study, 3) hold a class’ interest in lessons and activities, 4) keep kids focused and on task in groups and independently, 5) prevent lost time during transitions, 6) promote healthy lifestyles and good character, 7) promote world knowledge and interest in protecting vital natural resources, 8) encourage curiosity and critical thinking and model and encourage a love of learning.

When educators apply the science of sustaining concentration with the art of teaching to reach specific goals, they can anticipate good outcomes in meeting the challenges before them in a world full of ever-increasing distractions. According to Dr. Tony Wagner, Co-Director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, sustaining concentration is more than a challenge; it’s also a mandate. Dr. Wagner asserts that the ability to sustain concentration is one of seven key survival skills for workers in the 21st century – workers that will include children currently in grades Pre K – 5. View Dr. Wagner on YouTube and read more of his recommendations for innovations in education to help prepare students for the future.

Teachers can sustain concentration by employing A-GEs, beginning with #1- Attracting Appearance & Presence.

Teachers can catch kids' attention with attracting appearances and presence, including a guest visit of a team mascot.

Teachers can catch kids’ attention with attracting appearances and presence, including a guest visit of a team mascot.

This doesn’t require “good looks” per se; the key word is attracting, and the teacher herself or himself doesn’t have to be the main presence. My blog pic here is from a day during professional hockey season when I invited a team mascot to stop by class. “Stormy’s” attractive appearance and presence immediately caught the attention of my class!

Teachers can also use “body language” to command presence in front of a class. Simply “stand tall.”

A-GE #2 – Enthusiasm

If you believe like I do that teaching is a performing art, you know that we sometimes need to fake enthusiasm to gain and maintain students’ attention. Let’s face it; no one feels enthusiastic about their work every day. The ability to project enthusiasm, however, is vital to engaging students in learning. Dawn Hochsprung, the Principal who died in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT (US), delighted in greeting students to school each morning with genuine enthusiasm.

A-GE #3 – Voice

Voice is a powerful teaching tool. Teachers use their voices to command attention, instruct, tell stories, express care and concern for kids, show enthusiasm and appreciation for work well done. It’s important to modulate your voice to sustain attention. Research supports this. An article published online by the Association for Psychological Science, titled Teaching Tips by Cathy Sargent Mester and Robert T. Tauber, suggests that teachers can help students “stay with it” by incorporating theater techniques, including voice. Ever-popular Word Play offers endless opportunities to engage children with voice.

Discover more A-GEs – Attention-Getting Elements…

This helping hand for reading is an eye-catching visual.

This helping hand for reading is an eye-catching visual.

A-GE #4 – Eye-Catching Visuals

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an expression that has been adopted in some form around the world. Research shows that this age-old expression, derived from Chinese culture, originally read, “A picture’s meaning can express ten thousand words.” Either way, it’s common knowledge that eye-catching visuals, like the graphic shown in my blog pic here, attract attention and can especially help struggling students and those with learning styles that rely on visual skills. We live in a world that offers more and more visual-audio options; some educators believe this to be a distraction factor that impacts students’ behavior and ability to learn.

A-GE #5 – Word Choice

Teachers that use ear-catching language know that deliberate word choice is an amazing teaching tool. A few examples: Alliterative language can turn into tongue twisters that engage kids. Nicknames are endearing. When I’m with an unfamiliar class on the first day of a writer residency I often call students by a nickname that I spontaneously choose based on the color of their clothing. For example, I’ll say to a girl wearing a pink t-shirt, “Ms. Pink, what do you think?” I vary my word choices, of course, to be age-appropriate, but the effect is the same.

One of my most popular teaching tools and tricks is showing off  “The Big E.” The Big E isn’t only a nickname; it’s a symbol for what I tell students is a must-have item in class with me – The Big E stands for ENERGY! Teachers working in languages other than English can adapt this concept by using the correct letter to begin their word for energy.

I always TELL students about The Big E before I SHOW it with a theatrical introduction, like you see me doing in my blog pic below. Once students have met The Big E, all I need to do is ask if Big E’s been lost when I see kids slip into a sluggish mode in class. As word choices go for teaching, colleagues tell me that The Big E is one of the best.

It's time for you to meet "The Big E" - ENERGY!

It’s time for you to meet “The Big E” – ENERGY!

Energy. By the end of a week of teaching, it’s sometimes difficult to remember our own names, let alone muster the energy for anything! The good news…using Attention-Getting Elements can actually be energizing for teachers, as well as for kids. At a time when many teachers are being asked to do more with less, A-GEs may not offer an extra pair of hands (at least not real ones), but they can assist us in helping children master skills to meet the test, literally and figuratively.

Check back with soon. I’ll be introducing another set of A-GEs to benefit teachers.

All the best,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet


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Posted in Mid-Week Focus
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Young students are getting noisy while you’re trying to teach.

Solution: Hold up "Listen Star," a toy magic wand that you’ve designated to be a cue for quiet. Tell the class, "When you see our friend, 'Listen Star' dance across the classroom sky, that’s your signal to HUSH for a moment."

Related Posts: Let "Listen Star" Work Magic for You