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5 Procedures to Use if Students Aren’t Listening to You

You’re eager to start the year off strong, but you’re struggling to get your students to follow directions and your students aren’t listening to you. In this blog post, we’ll delve into five essential procedures you should teach to help your students become active listeners and direction followers.

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#1 Class Call

The first procedure you should teach if your students aren’t listening to you is a class call. When you need to regain your students’ attention, it’s essential to have a procedure in place. Some teachers use doorbells, but I prefer a versatile method – the class call. 

It’s not just about what they should say in response; it’s about what they should do afterward. For example, if you say, “Macaroni and cheese,” they should respond with “Everybody freeze” and then stop, look, and listen. Model the procedure, discuss its importance, clarify what it doesn’t look like, and practice it. This procedure is crucial for quickly refocusing your students and transitioning between activities.

#2 Whole Group

The second procedure you should teach if your students aren’t listening to you is what they should be doing during whole group instruction. Establish clear expectations for how your students should behave during whole-group instruction. 

I learned this concept from Teaching With Joy. Use the acronym ALTVV: Active Listening, Track the Speaker, Still Hands, Listening Ears, and Voices Off. Provide a visual reminder, model the expected behavior, discuss what it should look and sound like, and refer to other related procedures, such as seating arrangements.

#3 Talk to a Partner

The next procedure you should teach if your students aren’t listening to you is how they should talk to a partner. Teaching your students how to effectively interact with a partner is essential. 

Implement the “Peanut Butter and Jelly Partner” concept, specifying how they should behave when talking to their partner. Outline what active listening looks like, what partners should do when they’re speaking, and how to convey that they’re listening. Describe both the visual and auditory aspects of this procedure.

#4 Ready to Share

Another procedure you should teach if your students aren’t listening to you is to show you they are ready. Ensure your students know how to signal that they’re ready to share with you. 

Establish a “ready signal” and explain what it looks and sounds like. I personally use a thumbs-up when students are done with their work or speaking to a partner. Emphasize that this signal is for communication with you, not their peers. Clarify what’s expected when they’re working with friends.

#5 Independent Work

The final procedure to teach your students if they are having a hard time listening to you is what they should be doing while working independently. Define the expected behavior for independent work. 

Cover topics like how to work with materials, working at a “0” noise level, specific voice levels, and where they should work in the classroom. Ensure students understand what it means to be engaged independently and how to ask for assistance when needed.

Wrap Up

Overall, teaching these five essential procedures can significantly improve your student’s ability to pay attention and follow directions. Each procedure serves a unique purpose and contributes to a well-managed classroom. If you found this information helpful, make sure to check out part 4 of this series. For more classroom management strategies, consider joining our 3-day classroom management challenge.

As always remember:


Helena <3


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How Different Areas in Your Classroom Can Help Getting Students to Follow Directions

Do you find yourself struggling to get your students to follow directions in the classroom? In part 2 of our series on effective classroom management, we’ll explore a powerful strategy to improve student behavior – using associative memory techniques and different classroom areas. Let’s dive in and discover how you can create an environment where following directions becomes second nature.

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What is the Associative Memory Technique?

Before we begin, one of the questions you might be asking yourself is “what is the associative memory technique?” The associative memory technique, according to google, is the ability to “connect new information you want to remember with existing information that you already know.” 

In other words, it’s the ability to pair your surroundings or memories with new information. It’s almost like a mental cue for your brain to remember how to act when you’re in that environment. An example of this would be your brain reminding you to be quiet because you are in the library. Or your brain reminds you that you can cheer loudly for your favorite team while you’re watching them play live at the stadium.

Another example would be to remember a student’s name, “Lacy,” because you have a cousin Lacy. Therefore, you can better remember and learn that student’s name. It’s your ability to pair your surroundings, experiences, or memory to take in new information.

Now you might be wondering “How does the associative memory technique help get students to follow directions?” We’re going to cover that in the next section.

Associative Memory in Action:

One thing you may not have realized is that you can actually use the associative memory technique to be better at getting your students to follow directions. 

For example, when I was growing up my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Lind, would play classical music and give us a piece of gum whenever we would study for a test in class. Later when we took the test, can you guess what he did?

That’s right! He mimicked our environment from when we were studying aka the associative memory strategy by giving us a piece of gum and playing the same playlist when we took the assessment. The crazy part is whenever he would use this technique, the class average performance on the assessment went up significantly. 

Different Classroom Areas:

One way to be better at getting your students to follow directions using the associative memory technique is to use different areas in your classroom. Consider this to be similar to the library versus the stadium example provided earlier.

Essentially try setting up different areas in your classroom where expectations are different. For example having a different area for your students to listen to whole group instruction versus working independently is going to significantly help your students to be more engaged during whole group instruction. 

When students are listening to a lecture or a lesson, they are sitting quietly, with their eyes on the teacher, and their hands are typically clear of all distractions. Whereas while working independently students are likely to be sitting at their seats, quietly using various materials and asking for feedback as they quietly work. Making different areas for both of these areas will increase focus and ensure your students are more likely to follow directions and expectations for whatever task they are doing. 

Consider dividing your classroom into different areas, each with its own set of rules and procedures. For example:

  • Whole Group Area: Where students listen attentively during lectures or discussions.
  • Small Group Area: Where collaborative work takes place.
  • Independent Work Area: Where students work on assignments individually.

How to be better at getting your students to follow directions:

In each area, establish distinct rules and cues. For instance, in the whole group area, students might sit criss-cross with hands in their laps and eyes on the speaker, raising their hands for permission to speak. In the small group area, different rules apply.

Take the time to explicitly teach your students about each classroom area and its associated rules. Use cues and memory techniques to help them remember what’s expected in each space.


By using the associative memory technique and creating distinct classroom areas with specific rules, you can significantly improve your students’ ability to follow directions. This strategy not only enhances behavior but also fosters a more organized and productive learning environment. If you found this helpful, be sure to check out part 3 of our classroom management series. To dive deeper into effective teaching strategies, consider joining our Classroom Management Challenge.

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Top Mistakes You Might Be Making When Students Aren’t Listening to You

The excitement of starting your teaching career can quickly fade when your students aren’t listening to you. If you’re facing this challenge, know that you’re not alone. Managing a classroom is one of the most demanding aspects of teaching. Today, we’re here to help you avoid the top five mistakes that might be causing your students not to listen and, more importantly, to provide solutions that can turn your class into one of the most well-behaved in the school.

Podcast Episode:


#1 Taking Away Recess

The first mistake teachers make when their students aren’t listening to them is taking away recess. This is a common practice and although it is tempting, taking away a student’s recess can bee seen as a form of punishment. 

Surprisingly, 86% of teachers have used this method, but studies show it’s ineffective. Oftentimes when you take away a student’s recess you are not teaching them a lesson. Instead, the student will simply label themselves as a “bad kid” and will find it difficult to turn their day around in the future.

Instead, find out why this student isn’t listening to you and rely on teaching procedures on what the expectations are in class. Whenever possible, it is highly recommended that you find a “natural consequence” as opposed to taking away recess. An example of this could be if a student isn’t listening to you during whole group, make sure to review the expectations and procedures for whole group instruction. 

#2 Stopping Class to Address Behavior

The second mistake you might be making if your students aren’t listening to you is that you are stopping the class to address the behavior. Interrupting your lesson to address a student’s behavior can lead to power struggles and loss of credibility.

Oftentimes instead of teaching the student and class a lesson, you are embarrassing the student in front of their peers and they may be tempted to snap a remark back. Other students might also start to be disruptive because they subconsciously take note that you are paying attention to the “negative” behavior in class.

Instead, it is recommended to learn alternative methods to maintain control while keeping the learning environment positive. Some strategies include proximity, pointing out the students who ARE following expectations and practicing the expectations in class as a whole WITHOUT singling a student out.

#3 Clip Charts

Another mistake you might be making if your students aren’t listening to you is relying on clip charts. If you are not familiar with them, clip charts are different levels of where a student stands in regard to their behavior for that day. Typically every student starts at a certain level and they can clip up or down based on the choices they make in class. 

Clip charts can be detrimental if your students aren’t listening to you for several reasons. The first reason is students spend their day comparing each other and how they are doing. Another reason they aren’t effective is sudents see that they are labeled “bad” for a choice they made. The next reason why clip charts aren’t recommended is students are publicly humiliated if they make a mistake. 

According to Teacher clipcharts have even been shown to “Intensify anxious behavior and decrease engagement.” One Fab Teacher has a video has a video about clip charts you can watch that by clicking here.

Instead of relying on clip charts, it is highly recommended that you use a more positive strategy like a super improver wall. You can learn more about them in this book. Or download a free one by clicking here. 

#4 Not Reviewing or Teaching Procedures

The fourth mistake you might be making if your students aren’t listening to you is you haven’t taught your procedures thoroughly or you haven’t reviewed them consistently. Procedures are the key to a smoothly running classroom. 

Oftentimes we may FEEL like we explained the expectations thoroughly enough, but often times students need procedures modeled, practiced, and discussed multiple times for it to become a habit.

This is the first place you should be going if your students aren’t listening to you. I highly recommend you check out this post where I talk more about how you can teach procedures in an effective way. 

#5 Not Building a Strong Relationship

The final mistake you may be making if your students aren’t listening to you is that you aren’t focusing enough on building a strong relationship with your students. Strong classroom management starts with building a solid relationship with your students. 

As the saying goes if your students don’t trust you they won’t learn from you. That’s why it’s recommended that you intentionally building a strong relationships with your students over the next couple of weeks. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Get to know your students interests outside of school
  • Share some of your interests outside of school
  • Get to know about your student’s home life
  • Check in and praise them throughout the day.

Wrap Up:

In summary, the five common mistakes you might be making when your students aren’t listening to you are:

  • Taking Away Recess
  • Stopping Class to Address Behavior
  • Using Clip Charts
  • Not Reviewing or Teaching Procedures
  • Not Building a Strong Relationship

If you found these insights valuable and want to learn more, check out our 3-day Classroom Management Challenge. Transform your classroom management in just five days.


See you next time, teacher bestie!


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Avoiding the Top Teacher-Parent Communication Mistake

As a new teacher, communicating with families can be intimidating. I made a crucial mistake in my parent-teacher communication that led to a flop. In this blog post, I’ll share the #1 teacher-parent communication mistake I made and the key strategy to ensure strong teacher-parent communication from day one.

The Mistake: Having the Wrong Mindset

One of the biggest culprits of communication breakdown is having a “parent” versus “teacher” mindset. I found myself constantly expecting my families to be upset with me, dreading phone calls that might turn into confrontations. During parent-teacher conferences, I focused solely on what I was doing to help their child, without involving the families or providing them with ideas to support learning at home. That’s why it is essential to avoid the teacher-parent communication mistake.

The Fix: Shifting from “Me” to “We”

The solution is simple but powerful: shift your mindset from “Me” to “We.” This change in perspective can make all the difference in your parent-teacher interactions. Instead of seeing yourself as the sole authority, involve families as partners in their child’s education.

Practical Strategies:

  • Initiate conversations with families, presenting challenges as shared problems and seeking their input and ideas for solutions.
  • During parent-teacher conferences, discuss what “we” can do together to support the student’s progress, involving families in the process.
  • Be proactive in positive communication, reaching out to share successes and celebrate student achievements.
  • Approach challenges by explaining the situation and collaborating with families on strategies to support the student both in the classroom and at home.


By shifting your mindset from “Me” to “We,” you can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for teacher-parent communication. This simple change in perspective can significantly impact your relationships with families and enhance your overall teaching experience. If you found this blog post helpful, don’t forget to check out the Ultimate New Elementary Teacher Guide, a free resource answering the top 10 questions about teaching at the elementary level.

Parent Night Series:

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This one thing I did before parent night was a game-changer!

Let’s face it, talking to families can be intimidating. As educators, we spend a lot of time honing our skills to communicate effectively with students. However, engaging with adults is a whole different ball game. With parent night approaching, it’s natural to feel a little nervous. You want to make a good impression and ensure that you and the families are working together as a team for the success of your students. That’s why today, I’m going to share the one thing I did before parent night that was a complete game-changer! Let’s dive in!

So, you want to make a good impression? There’s only one way to do that—make a call.

The Call

But what do you say? I understand that phone calls may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but trust me, it’s worth it. Start by introducing yourself and letting them know that you will be their child’s teacher. Share a little about yourself and three things you love about teaching. Make it personal and relatable. Then, ask if they have any questions or concerns ahead of time. This gives them an opportunity to talk with you privately, especially if parent night is an open-door event. Don’t forget to ask if you can introduce yourself to their child as well. One Fab Teacher, for example, reads stories to her students, which adds a great personal touch.

The Benefits

Making this phone call has numerous benefits. Firstly, it allows parents to speak privately with you, creating a comfortable space for open communication. It breaks the ice before the big night, making the parent-teacher interaction smoother. Moreover, it shows that you genuinely care about the well-being of the students and are willing to take the initiative. Families often receive phone calls for negative reasons, so a positive call like this sets a positive tone for the year ahead.

Wrap Up

I hope you found this tip useful! If you did, be sure to like and subscribe for more valuable insights. To make things easier for you, I’ve created a handy checklist that you can use before parent night. Download it now to ensure a successful and productive evening. Thank you for being an amazing teacher bestie! Bye for now!

Parent Night Series:

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5 Things You Might Be Forgetting to Prepare For Parent Night

Parent night is just around the corner, and with all the tasks on your to-do list, it’s easy to overlook important details. As you set up your classroom and get ready for the first week of school, it’s crucial to ensure you’re fully prepared for parent night. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the five essential things you should prepare for parent night to make a great impression on parents and kickstart a successful school year.

Welcome Letter

The first item on your parent night checklist should be a welcome letter or packet for families. Include information about yourself, how to contact you, your preferred method of communication (such as a class dojo or newsletter), office hours, daily schedule, drop-off and pick-up times, homework schedule, and an overview of what students will be learning throughout the year.

Contact Page/Interest Letter

Another way to prepare for parent night is to create a contact page or interest letter that acts as a communication tool between parents and yourself. Keep a copy for yourself to reference when making love calls or bucket-filling calls. Include details such as who to contact, contact preferences, special interests or hobbies of the student, allergies, drop-off or pick-up arrangements, and any other relevant information.

Student Seat with Board

Next, break the ice with each student by placing a post-it note on their desk. On the board, write a prompt such as “How I feel about starting 2nd grade.” This simple activity allows students to express themselves and creates a positive and welcoming atmosphere.

School Calendar

Don’t forget to bring extra copies of the school calendar to parent night. Include important dates such as school breaks, holidays, parent involvement or volunteer opportunities, upcoming parties, field trips, PTO meetings, and any other relevant events. This ensures parents stay informed and can plan ahead.

Added Bonus

Also, consider providing a supplies list and ask parents to call ahead of time to drop off their child’s supplies and help set up their desks. Decide whether supplies will be communal or assigned to each student in advance. This proactive approach saves time and helps establish an organized classroom environment from the start.

Wrap Up

By including these five essential items in your parent night preparations, you’ll be well-equipped to make a lasting impression on parents and confidently start the school year in the primary grades. Remember, effective parent-teacher communication and a welcoming classroom environment set the stage for a successful partnership between home and school.