As a long time teacher, I could have written this. and I have.
1. Move Around
One of the simplest ways to grab your students’ attention is to simply walk around the classroom. Move to the back of the classroom and walk right out the door. Ask the teacher next door if any of them noticed.
2. Lose the Structure
Have them throw all the furniture out the window. They do it all the time anyway. Do away with these physical constraints! Have them all sit in a circle on the floor. Don’t know what a circle is? Have a hands on math lesson! Shake them out of their accustomed structure. For those students into satanist cults, ask them to lead the lesson. For they won’t know what comes next. Maybe Satan will show up…..
3. Eliminate Routines
And speaking of not knowing what comes next… Students may wander more easily when they know what to expect and what will happen next. They come in and sit down. You ask them if they did their homework. They say fuck you. You tell them to open their books. They say fuck you. But what if instead of beginning the class the way you usually do, you do something completely unexpected? You say fuck you back! They’ll certainly be intrigued!
4. Remove Distractions
Sometimes you have no choice. Sometimes you have to enforce a “no cell phone” rule. However, they may still need them to take photos or film videos during class so they can turn you in. So, simply ask them to deposit their phones in a designated box at the start of class and give them back as needed. Yes, simply. Yes, they will complain. No, they won’t like it. Yes, they’ll pull out their guns. But if you engage them with activities they enjoy like Russian roulette, they’ll forget about their little tech gadget for a while.
5. Make them More Active
Have them do what you would ordinarily do. Have a student write on the board and he writes fuck you. Have another hand out worksheets which he will rip up in your face. Another helps a classmate with something they don’t understand like where to buy a gun or drugs. For those wondering why there are there, have a student show them where the Existentialist class is.
6. Divide and Conquer
Students are forced to focus when they can’t hide within a larger group. Divide the class into pairs or small groups for some activities. Walk around and assist as needed. Be careful here. No physical contact between students. Be prepared for name calling, inappropriate touching and theft.
7. Change the level and tone of your voice
Often just changing the level and tone of your voice, lowering it or raising it, will signal to the students it’s time to pay attention. Try screaming, SHUT THE FUCK UP!
8. Use Props
Grab a small, soft ball. Ask a question and toss the ball to a student. Prompt him/her to answer your question. Try to move beyond Fuck you. Have them throw the ball back to you and choose your next target. Make sure it’s not a real rock by now. Who will be next? They won’t know! Use balls, hats, toys, anything and everything that will make a drilling session more interesting and dynamic (see, here’s the real problem. There is no way to make a drilling session interesting and dynamic. Unless you have a real drill). When they start throwing rocks, pencils, scissors, knives or other sharp objects, call the police. Be sure you have a witness as they will accuse you of assaulting them.
9. Make a startling statement or give a quote
Writing a surprising statement or quote related to the content on the board has a similar effect: for example: Fuck! I really hate teaching you assholes. I became a teacher to get the summers off. I didn’t know I would get a bunch of losers and fucking idiots. Can’t you just shut the fuck up, do the worksheets and those boring drilling exercises and shut the fuck up. You don’t bother me, I don’t bother you. It’s easy you morons! Get ready for real life where everything is boring.
10. Surprise Them!
Have a box with the word “Box of Randomness” written on the side. Inside the box have pieces of paper with a variety of actions and things your class will have to do. At any given time during the class, whip out the box and have a student take out a piece of paper that will state something that he/she or the entire class will have to do. You may want to save this box for when you see someone not paying attention. Here are some ideas for your Box of Randomness:
“Random dancing” – play a tune from your phone and have the entire class stand up and dance. This might get out of hand and develop into actual sexual encounters, so be careful…
“Your turn to teach” – the student who takes this slip of paper has to stand up in front of the class and teach something/ask the others questions/lead a discussion. Make sure the subject taught is legal.
You can have lots of fun with your Box of Randomness, and it’s a great “penalty” for not paying attention. If you see extreme violence, cruelty and bullying, or someone screams as they reach inside, check the box for what really is in there.