So, before you try it out, you have to promise to be careful and use at your own risk.
If you’re unsure, well, it isn’t a make or break strategy, so you may want to leave this one alone.
But if you’re confident you can do it safely, then there are times when it can really come in handy.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say your class is involved in an especially active or loud activity.
They’re building a project or practicing for a performance or otherwise excitedly working together.
And let’s say that you need their attention right now. Perhaps you forgot to give them a critical piece of information or you have to make an announcement that just can’t wait.
You can certainly use the strategy we commonly recommend to get their attention, which is proven to be extremely effective and takes only a couple of seconds.
But if you add this one little (slightly) dangerous part to it, and don’t use it too often, you can bring an extra layer of urgency to your message.
It has a unique way of cutting through the commotion and hubbub in the room. The result is that your students will give you their attention faster and listen more intently.
So, to use the strategy, you’ll ask for their attention per normal. “Can I have your attention please.”
But you’ll do it while standing on a chair.
That’s right. You’re going to position yourself atop a solid—no rollers, hinges, cushions, or springs—four-legged chair.
A stool can also work.
There is something about the added height—the novelty or whimsicalness of it—that causes students to understand innately that you have something important to tell them.
It makes for a cleaner break from the tumult of the moment, allowing you to go from 100 to zero in the blink of an eye.
Now, it’s important to reiterate that you should never jump up on just any chair in the spur of the moment. Check beforehand to make sure that the one you choose is stable, sturdy, reliable, can hold your weight, etc.
I use the same, trustworthy chair every time. (I call him Sal.)
I feel comfortable using the strategy and always have. But please, if you decide to try it, be careful. I’d be horrified if videos of teachers losing their balance started popping up on YouTube.
If you have any trepidation whatsoever, take a pass on this one and stick with the same reliable method you normally use.
But if you’re willing to take the risk, however small (there is always a risk, life is a risk) then you have another helpful tool in your arsenal.
Now, no matter what’s going on in your classroom, or how much fun your students are having, you can instantly break through the clamor of voices.
You can break through their hyper focus or super engagement or even the most animated conversations.
And deliver a message you know they’ll take to heart.
PS – It probably goes without saying, but it’s a good idea to remind your students that the strategy is a teaching tool only, and they may not repeat the practice.