Home Classroom Management Four Ways to Show Your Teacher You’re Paying Attention in Class

Four Ways to Show Your Teacher You’re Paying Attention in Class

by Dr. Bruce Ellis
Image of female teacher at front of classroom with adult students

Metacognition is the science of paying attention to how we learn so that we can learn better. It’s easy to assume that students know how to pay attention because they are, in fact, students and go to school. But how often do we talk to our students about actual steps they can take to increase their productivity as a student? So with that in mind, consider sharing this article with your students for a class discussion. I’d recommend highlighting the post, starting with the next paragraph through the question section, and pasting it into a Google Doc for your students to access. Besides sharing aloud, students can add comments to the documents with their thoughts and ideas.

1. Participate.

One of the most common ways to demonstrate to your teacher that you’re paying attention in class is to participate. Participation in class allows you to provide feedback to your teacher and helps him or her understand how well you are doing. Generally, teachers seek student input on certain topics, which can help them design the lessons more effectively. The process can also encourage you to prepare for class. If you come prepared to class, you will be more likely to engage in active participation. Another way to demonstrate participation in class is to speak up during class discussions. You can share ideas by writing on the whiteboard or posting thoughtful comments on a discussion forum such as Padlet or YoTeach if the teacher permits.

2. Raise Your Hand.

A raising of the hand by the teacher can be used as a signal for students to stop what they’re doing and raise their hands. If they’re unable to respond, the teacher can hold up their hand in a silent gesture. This signal is best used when the teacher wants the entire class to stop what they’re doing.

Raising your hand to show your teacher that you’re paying attention in class is a simple way to get the teacher’s attention. During a discussion, raising your hand is an effective way to show that you’re paying attention and also to respect classmates, or the teacher, who may be currently talking. Raising your hand is a great way to avoid interrupting others, keep the discussion open, and allow everyone to speak.

3. Eliminate Distractions.

One of the easiest ways to show your teacher you’re paying attention is to eliminate all forms of digital distractions from your study area. This includes switching off your cell phone or placing it face-down on your desk. In addition, it’s helpful to avoid sitting near window seats, where you can see activities outside the classroom. Suppose the distraction is actually another student that is near you. In that case, you may have to put effort into ignoring them, let them know that your learning is important to you, ask them to discontinue whatever it is that’s distracting, or move spots in the classroom. By minimizing your distractions, you’ll be able to focus better on class material.

4. Take Notes.

Taking notes in class is a great way to let the teacher know you are paying attention. Instead of taking word-for-word notes, consider summarizing what the teacher is saying every so often and writing that information down. You may find it easier to do quick sketches or doodles to represent the information being discussed. If needed, ask the teacher to repeat important information so that you can get it correct in your notes. And if something is confusing, likely, your teacher would rather you raise your hand and ask for clarification now instead of waiting until the end of class so that other following information makes better sense. If you need clarification, someone else in class likely needs it as well. Writing information down means you’ll be more likely to recall the information later on.

Follow-up Questions for Class Discussion

Here are a few questions to ask your students once they’ve read the previous information. You may find that additional questions are relevant based on the engagement and interaction of students on this topic.

  • As the teacher, what is something I might see you doing that indicates that you are paying attention? It might be one of the four things mentioned above, but it may also be something else.
  • What are some of the distractions in class? Any suggestions on how you (or we) can help eliminate those?
  • What about our classroom environment (the room arrangement, the way I structure lessons, etc.) helps you pay attention? Is there anything that we need to consider tweaking that would make it easier for you to pay attention?
  • What about our classroom culture (how we interact with each other, how I talk with/to you, etc.) helps you pay attention and enjoy the class? Is there anything about our classroom culture that we might need to change or adapt?

Let Us Know

Let us know if you try this with your students and how it goes. Does it spark good (and possibly ongoing) discussions that empower students to more likely take ownership of their learning? How did your students react to having a conversation about paying attention? Did they mention that other teachers were asking them similar things in order to make their classroom even more meaningful? Let us know in the comments below.

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Krystal Alexis Castro Portillo January 31, 2023 - 7:08 pm

I like it all GOOD JOB GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111

overamphora February 21, 2023 - 7:40 pm

I would suggest copying and pasting the highlighted portion of the text, beginning with the next paragraph and continuing through the question area, into a Google Doc that your students may view. Students have the option of adding comments to the papers with their own views and ideas in addition to talking out loud.

Learning July 15, 2023 - 1:13 pm



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