How to Get Students to Listen to You?

How to Get Students to Listen to You?

Close your eyes and imagine sitting in your school classroom. What do you see? The most common scene you will visualize is: a teacher sitting in front of your class-mates and a collective buzz emanating from the classroom. But, isn’t it a usual occurrence in any educational institution, be it kindergartens, schools, colleges or even universities?

Just recall your own schooldays, friends. What happened after your teacher assigned you some work and sat down at her desk, after explaining a concept? Or even, while the teacher was drawing a science diagram on the blackboard, with her back turned to the class? Please be honest! I bet at least 75% of you guys seized an opportunity to engage in a conversation with your friends, during this time. And, the conversation would mostly focus on trivial subjects like discussing the last movie you watched, or your friend’s birthday party.

Let me remind you, listening to teachers attentively in the classroom is one the best success mantras for brilliant students. When you listen to each and every word of your teacher’s lecture, you have already learnt half your lesson! Unfortunately, students ‘hear’, but don’t ‘listen’ properly. Their attention tends to wander when they’re just about thirty minutes into a session.

If you are wondering about how to capture your student’s attention and motivate them to listen to you, continue reading:

  • Know your students: Have you noticed that students love listening to teachers who know them as individuals? For instance, you can ask your students about their hobbies, interests and favorite sports. But first of all, you must remember all their names. Some teachers keep forgetting the names of students, which really puts off students. Your body language should be such that students can relate to you easily. Why not share some amusing mistakes with kids, which you had committed as a child of their age?
  • Don’t repeat: This is the worst thing a teacher could do inside classrooms. For, many of you feel that repeating the important sections of a chapter or an experiment enables students to learn better, and pay more attention. Actually, it’s just the opposite. When you repeat information, your students take you for granted. Because, they know that even if they miss an instruction for the first time, their teacher is going to reiterate it for the second or third time. You can summarize the salient features of a chapter instead.
  • Encourage participation: I remember how we used to love our Geography lessons in school. We were a noisy lot, but in there was pin-drop silence in the Geography class! For, our teacher encouraged us to actively participate in class. She explained concepts on the blackboard using diagrams and charts. When she was done, we would ask us questions. We were told to raise our hands if we knew the answer, hold up two fingers if we had any doubts and three fingers if we failed to understand the concept.
  • Model listening behavior: Some teachers are unable to obtain their students’ feedback because they are busy presenting their own statements. But after you’ve finished a lesson, pause and pay attention to your students. They might have queries concerning what you just taught them. Listen intently to students as they are discussing the lesson amongst themselves. Paraphrase their doubts and clarify them immediately. You can even ask them to speak one at a time. And, ask another student to repeat what was being said and answer the question, if possible for him.
  • Formulate questions: If you are teaching a lengthy chapter, or showing a film that’s quite long, break it up into segments. Pause whenever you find it necessary and create a few questions about the topic you just explained. When students realize that they are expected to answer questions at the end of the classroom lesson, they automatically start listening to teachers and paying more attention. Learners tend to fall asleep or get bored when lecturers keep speaking continuously with no breaks in between their speech.
  • Motivate each of them to listen: Most students are bound to miss a few parts of your lecture, as students have varying levels of understanding. So, it is natural for a few of you to get irritated, particularly when you are in a hurry to finish a chapter before the exams. I would suggest you allot a few minutes to your students for sharing their notes with each other. And, jotting down the points which they might have missed. This ‘note checking’ process ensures that there are no knowledge gaps amongst your students.
  • Don’t yell: Well, this might be tough to follow. But trust me, if you can do it, your students will stop their chit-chat and start obeying you. Try to be calm and composed, even when your students seem hardly interested in what you are teaching them. Tell them in a quite manner, that you are waiting for them to relax, and till they don’t do that, you will not start teaching them. I bet this will capture their attention and force them to concentrate. Avoid screaming at them or you will lose their interest!

When I was a school-kid, I noticed many of the questions which appeared in the question papers were actually discussed by teachers in the class. Yet, several of my class-mates complained of tough papers, or tricky questions! It happened because they failed to listen to teachers properly, when they analyzed those very lessons as they taught the chapters to pupils. Therefore, it is important for students to develop listening skills, since their childhood. It would help learners of all ages – whether he is a school, college or university student.

I hope my tips would inspire you to incorporate a few alterations in your teaching style, to get students to listen to you with rapt attention. And consequently, accumulate more knowledge and wisdom!


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