A lifetime ago I taught preschool. Half a lifetime ago I taught in elementary, and I’ve also taught middle school. I’ve worked with English speaking high schoolers and now I’m working with English learning high schoolers. All of them respond to this classroom management technique every time I do it.
That’s it! There’s a few spins you can throw, but it’s never complicated. Here’s how and when I use it.
When I want a class (again, ANY age ANY language) to quiet down, I’ll hold up three fingers and count down out loud.
When I want a class to get out materials, hand in papers, or any other short transition, I count down from 10.
When I give students a slightly more complicated task (for example, getting into small groups,) I’ll count down from 30.
I even count down when a student says they must absolutely or-they’re-going-to-die go to the bathroom. I’ll tell them they have 60 seconds once they cross the threshold. It works!
You can add rewards or restrictions based on their success if you want (if they are ready by the time the countdown is complete, they earn a marble/bingo chip/penny OR if they aren’t ready they lose a …something.)
It may seem too easy, but it can quiet a class, create fast transitions, get students on task, even save your sanity when your subbing.
Stop talking, stop warning, stop thinking of creative programs to focus the attention of your students-it’s all wasting valuable teaching time! Count down and your done.