5 Ways to Get Student Attention in the Classroom

A new school year usually means a new teacher, new expectations, and new routines, so our students sometimes don't respond the way we'd hoped when we try to get their attention in the early days and weeks. Here are my 5 favorite ways to get my students' attention in the classroom.

Photo of teacher in front of class with text, "5 Ways to Get Student Attention in the Classroom"

 Music, Songs & Sound Effects

I love using music in my classroom for a wide variety of purposes, and it can be very effective as a way of getting your students' attention. Short sound clips saved to your computer or another device can be accessed quickly and easily. Try:

  • the Mission Impossible theme,
  • the Jeopardy music,
  • a doorbell chime,
  • the whistle from The Andy Griffith Show,
  • the Pink Panther theme, 
  • any other short song, sound effect or music clip!

Call-Backs and Rhymes

When I started teaching in the primary division, I relied heavily on these. I started my year with "Hands free, eyes on me" and then changed that to something similar that had been working for our other primary teachers for a while and something my students were already trained to respond to. It is a callback that goes like this:

Teacher: "Hands on top."
Class: "That means stop."

You can grab a free set of 18 callback cards for your classroom and lots of other goodies here in my Freebie Library! Click the photo:

Photo of free call-and-response cards

Hand Signals

I find teaching really hard on my voice. I know that I've suffered some damage over my many years in the classroom. For this reason, I love using hand signals to get my students' attention. My go-to signal is a simple 5-finger countdown. By the time I'm at zero, I expect my students to have all eyes and ears on me. I use this a lot during partner sharing on the carpet in particular.

Photo of hand counting down from five fingers to none


This year, I've relied more on clapping patterns than ever before. I have a more physical class than in recent memory, and they have required something more kinesthetic to truly gain their undivided attention. One of the true benefits of clapping is that the students are forced to empty their hands. Try:

  • having students repeat a clapping pattern,
  • saying, "If you can hear my voice, clap once. If you can hear my voice, clap twice." etc. (You don't need to use much volume here. If even one student can hear you, you'll have everyone's attention within a couple of clapping sequences!)


Another great strategy for a busy class is to incorporate movement into the attention signal. A game of "Teacher Says" or "Simon Says" is a great way to get your students to stop what they're doing, empty their hands, and turn their attention to you.

Share an Idea!

I know that my readers have tons of great strategies for getting student attention in the classroom, and I'd love for you to share your ideas in the comments below. Together, we are stronger!

You might also be interested in the ideas in this blog post:

Photo of clothespins on a piece of twine with words, "5 Creative Ways to use Clothespins in the Classroom"

Take a look at more classroom management ideas and resources on this Pinterest board:

If you've enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and colleagues or pin it!

Photo of teacher in front of a classroom with text, "5 Ways to Get Student Attention in the Classroom"


  1. Thank you very much for sharing!
    I do most of these strategies. I can share an idea that works for me. When kids are too energetic and they can't be calm at their desks, I usually play a type of music called "bachata" and we all dance (I've learnt some steps in my zumba classes). I dance and students copy me. We all have fun and after that, children are more focused on the lesson.

    1. Sounds like fun! I haven't heard of "bachata" but we often do some of the more calming GoNoodle videos when they need to settle and move at the same time!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. We are discussing eventually moving toward responsive classroom or something similar. One of their videos had a "Woodstock Zenergy" chime that you tap with a mallet. I bought one. It has a very clear, penetrating (but not unpleasant) sound.

  3. Do you have the 18 callback cards available still? :)

    1. Yes! You just have to enter your info into the form above. :) If you have difficulty with it, please email me at questions@mrsbeattiesclassroom.com.


  4. I was wondering the same thing. Are the callback cards still downloadable?

    1. Yes! You just have to enter your info into the form above. :) If you have difficulty with it, please email me at questions@mrsbeattiesclassroom.com.


  5. great tips... thank you so much for sharing....will tell to my colleagues too who teach younger pupils. the best of luck to you...


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