How to Assure Student Focus at the Start of Class

The children saunter in to class, a sea of faces of boredom, dread, exhaustion and a myriad of emotions you would rather not see.  In some places it seems to take half the class to get started.  There are different strategies, however, that can help you gain your students’ focus immediately.  Consider the following ideas.

Five-minute quiz

The children may not love you for it, but it can be a great way to get them focused right away. You can have a question or two on the board right after class starts and it can be a small quiz that counts as a grade.  Not only are the children forced to be to class on time (or lose the credit) but they must start to focus right away.  It can also be a great way to review the previous day’s lesson, to check if they read the assigned reading for the day, etc.  You can also make it something for extra credit if you want to put a positive spin on it. 

Put a brainteaser on the board

In some classes, they will put some sort of brainteaser on the board.  This works especially great for a math classroom, in which it can incorporate some of the principles taught in the class.  It can be fun and get them in the mindset to start learning. 

Immediate timed assignment

You can have the students have to do a quick assignment that they have a time limit for, forcing them to get started.  For instance, you might put up the notes for the day at the start of class on the board.  You might then have them copy those down as soon as they get into the classroom.  After five minutes you can take them down so that they will only have the opportunity to do them  at the very beginning.

It is important to get the students focused right away so that you can make the most of your class time.  You should speak up right away as class begins, making sure to get all of your preparations such as writing on the board done beforehand.  Tell the class to settle down right away and get started right on your lesson. If a student starts to talk then you can discipline them.  You can also give rewards to those who are good for the entire class and include how quickly they are focused as part of this.  Use those and the above techniques to help students get started right away.