Hands and Eyes is the fifth part of Whole Brain Teaching’s classroom management system. These techniques are often referred to as the Big Seven because there are seven elements. Last month’s posts focused on the first four parts. Today we continue our study of these foundational elements that are used in a Whole Brain Teaching classroom all year. Hands and Eyes is known as The Focuser because that’s exactly what it does – it focuses your students’ attention in a quick and dramatic way. You use it when you want to make a really important point during your lesson. Unlike the Class-Yes, which you would use many times throughout the day, Hands and Eyes is reserved for only a few times to emphasize important information.
Using Hands and Eyes
Hands and Eyes is very easy to introduce and use with your students. It’s very similar to the Class-Yes. When you say, “Hands and eyes,” your students should repeat, “Hands and eyes!” They fold their hands and look directly at you. That’s it. Now you want to make the most of this focused attention, so here are some pointers that I found helpful with my own students.
- Make a big gesture.
As you are saying, “Hands and eyes” pull your arms wide apart, fingers also spread wide. I like to drag out saying the word “hands” so it’s more like, “Haaaaaands and eyes!” As I say the phrase “and eyes” I quickly bring my hands together, fingers interlocked.
- Allow for a dramatic pause.
It’s tempting to talk as soon as your students are looking at you, but resist! Allow for a dramatic pause. The pause signals students that this is really important information and you don’t want anyone to miss it. Pausing also allows you to visually sweep the room and make sure everyone is looking at you with their hands folded. You want 100% compliance before you begin to talk. Otherwise, you send the message that it’s okay for some kids not to follow directions and that violates Rule #1 – Follow directions quickly!
- Be brief.
Don’t be long-winded with your big point. Say it quickly and concisely. Saying it twice is even better. For example, once my students were looking at me and I had paused dramatically I might say, “Today you will learn to write numbers in expanded form. I’ll say that again. Today we are writing numbers in expanded form.” Then I would clap twice and have them teach their neighbor using the Teach-Okay technique. If you have a lengthy big point, then break it up into “bite size” pieces.
Why Use Hands and Eyes?
Hands and Eyes is an important routine to use with your students. Teaching is a series of important points followed by smaller points. Think of the information you share after Hands and Eyes as your main idea. All the other statements that follow are your supporting details. I found that I used Hands and Eyes two or three times an hour. However, other teachers like to use it only a few times throughout the whole day. Practice using Hands and Eyes and decide for yourself what works best with your students. It’s your classroom!
Hands and Eyes Variations
Of course, there are a few variations for using Hands and Eyes:
- Follow-up to Class-Yes. If you’ve used the Class-Yes a few times and still don’t have everyone’s full attention, then follow-up with a quick Hands and Eyes.
- Extra drama. If you want to make a really, really important point say in an excited tone of voice, “Hands, hands, hands and eyes!” Students repeat that phrase with their hands folded and eyes looking at you. Last year I had a student who would quietly whisper, “Target locked,” when he looked at me. I loved it!
- Fight the fidget. Hands and Eyes is effective at calming down a group of fidgety students, such as when they are lined up and getting ready for recess.
More Resources for Hands and Eyes
There is an archived video about Hands and Eyes in the webcast library at the Whole Brain Teaching website. It’s program #519. You might find it useful to watch and learn more about Hands and Eyes.
You can also find a script to introduce Hands and Eyes with your students in my Resources category under Getting Started.
Easing Into Whole Brain Teaching
If you are intrigued by Whole Brain Teaching, but are feeling a little overwhelmed by all of it, don’t despair! This is one technique that you can quickly and easily use with your students even if you’re not ready to dive into the deep end with Whole Brain Teaching. Don’t pressure yourself to do it all at once if that’s too outside your comfort zone. I only did a small part of Whole Brain Teaching my first year, and found even that tiny amount was amazingly effective. Do what you can and add on more elements when you’re ready.