Losing control of the classroom can be one of the most frustrating and intimidating experiences for both new and experienced teachers. Losing control can happen in several different ways. The most common would be where the class is distracted. This could be from a situation outside the classroom such as noisy conversation in the hall, or from an event elsewhere that students find out about, such as a rumor of the football coach getting fired. Losing control can also happen within the classroom, such as when one student monopolizes the discussion, or where there is a general lack of interest in the lecture, and many students are obviously not paying attention. Here are nine possible ways to regain students’ attention.

1. Have a distinct sounding object, such as a bell or cymbal. As long as you don’t use it too often, this can be an effective way to bring student’s attention back to the lecture or class discussion.

2. Signal nonverbally, and make eye contact with students when they hold side conversations, start to fall asleep, or show contempt for the lecture material. You can also use hand signals to encourage a wordy student to finish what he or she is saying, or make a time out “T” sign with your fingers to stop unwanted behavior.

3. Remember what your parents told you when a sibling was bothering you. Sometimes it is best to ignore mildly negative behaviors. Often the behavior will disappear if you do not pay any attention to it.

4. Discuss very negative behaviors in private. During break or after class firmly request a change in behavior of those students who are disruptive. At our university it is very easy for professors to drop disruptive students from class, so one warning is usually enough.  …  Read More