Class-Yes is the attention getting strategy in the Whole Brain Teaching system. It is part of the core classroom management piece known as The Big Seven. Using the Class-Yes activates the prefrontal cortex of a student’s brain, which can be considered Command Central. This area of the brain controls decision making, planning and focus of attention. If your students’ prefrontal cortex is not engaged, little learning can take place. In his book Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids, Chris Biffle compares the Class-Yes to “a brain switch that readies the students for instruction.”
Introduce the Class-Yes on the first day of school before you even let the students enter the classroom. In my school, teachers and students gather in the multipurpose room until 8:00 a.m. At that time, we escort our students to the classroom for the first time. The teaching begins before you ever walk into your classroom! Right away I model and instruct my students in how we walk in the halls as a class and where to wait in the morning before I allow them to come into our room. It’s here that I would first teach my students the Class-Yes.
Here’s the script for introducing the Class-Yes to your students for the first time. It’s short enough that you can memorize it quickly. Besides, you will most likely repeat it more than once especially at the start of the school year. That’s because: “If repeating yourself bugs you, don’t go into teaching. Teaching is repeating.”
- Teacher: When I say Class!, you say Yes! Class!
- Students: Yes!
- Teacher: However I say Class!, you say Yes! Class! Class!
- Students: Yes! Yes!
- Teacher: (Using a low voice) Class!
- Students: (Mimicking the teacher’s low voice) Yes!
- Teacher: (Using a high voice) Class!
- Students: (Mimicking the teacher’s high voice) Yes!
- Teacher: Classity, class!
- Students: Yessity, yes!
For more information, I would encourage you to watch this introductory video about Class-Yes by the Whole Brain Teaching guru himself, Chris Biffle.
We teach this routine first because it activates the brain for the rest of the lesson. It’s also important because you will use it 15-20 times an hour throughout your school day. It’s imperative that students KNOW this procedure in your class and follow it. However, due to the habituation principle, you will need to have some variations on your Class-Yes to keep it engaging and fun for your students. Here are 10 variations I like to use with my own students:
- Class-bazinga-class! Yes-bazinga-yes!
- Class-adoodle-doo! Yes-adoodle-doo!
- Class-kaboom-class! Yes-kaboom-yes!
- Class-gobble, gobble-class! Yes-gobble, gobble-yes! (Thanksgiving theme)
- Class-boo, boo-class! Yes-boo, boo-yes! (Halloween)
- Class-arrrggh-class! Yes-arrrggh-yes! (Pirate voice, our school mascot)
- Class-bippity, boppity, boo! Yes-bippity, boppity, boo!
- Class-ho, ho, ho! Yes-ho, ho, ho! (Christmas theme)
- Class-buzz, buzz, buzz-class! Yes-buzz, buzz, buzz-yes!
- Class-yowza-class! Yes-yowza-yes!
Those are word variations, but you could also change the tone of your voice while using the simple, “Class-Yes!” wording. Your voice could be low, high, whisper, loud, robotic, slow-motion, super fast, or any other fun sound you can make. Here’s a PDF listing two pages of even more variations that you could use with your students.
Once your students are familiar with the Class-Yes routine, another way to vary your presentation is to use curriculum content. For example, you could say, “Two times three class?” Your students should respond, “Two times three equals six yes!” The only caveat with using content is to keep it short. You want to quickly draw your students’ attention to yourself. Don’t drag this out with statements that require lengthy answers.
A Fun Foundation
Don’t start the school year expecting all of your students to pay close attention to everything you say. Your primary goal in the beginning is to establish a set of routines and procedures (such as the Class-Yes) that will unite the majority of your students behind your leadership. Then you can create a classroom that is organized and focused on instruction, eventually dealing with your most problematic students. Take a few minutes to plan how and where you will introduce the Class-Yes to your students in the fall. It’s an important part of the foundation for a productive and fun school year.