Why do our teachers keep yelling Pay Attention?

Why do we our teachers always say “Pay Attention!”


Okay guys… Pay attention.


Let’s time travel back to our classrooms back when all of us needed to brush our teeth after recess time along the long canteen corridors. The place where we pride ourselves with long knee length socks and parade around with the coolest cartoon themed bags around school.


Back in the classroom, the musty sort of nostalgic smell of that typical classroom smell permeates the room while our old haggard unmotivated teacher yells “Pay Attention!” at every 5 to 8 minute interval. At one era, white chalk sticks would fly to distracted students’ foreheads. Headshot. Another era, we may need to stand for the entire lesson just because we didn’t pay attention.


Pay attention. Pay what?


A phrase that has been conditioned and drilled into the minds of youth. Perhaps an unintentional prayer and subconscious mental attraction to pay and pay in the future?


Student attention is perhaps the main and primary tick box a teacher in a classroom face on a daily basis. If our students do not focus their attention to whatever that is coming outta our mouths in forms of instructions or demonstrations, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter how effective our lessons are. All that sweat, blood and tears working and plowing through the evenings preparing our lessons will just be… well, sweat, blood and tears. Wasted.


“There is no such thing as not paying attention, the brain is always paying attention to something.” – Patricia Wolfe (2001, pg. 80)


That student in your class who glanced out to the students playing soccer at the basketball court from a distance while you’re going through pythagoras theorem, is he not paying attention? He is. Paying attention but only to the soccer game outside classroom.


Attention is selective.

This happens in my classroom as well. All the time. And like you, we understand our students. We are not going to yell “Pay Attention” to our students like how our former unmotivated teachers did back in the past.


Let’s be honest, did we really pay attention to our lecturers 100% while we were checking out our handphones or laptops in the lecture hall? Not all the time. But there is always that special unique teacher or lecturer that starts off with funny or interesting attention grabbers or with personal stories.


I vividly remember one of my favorite teachers back as a student, coming into class and started off with sort of an accolade session. I have adopted her technique and style in my teachings ever since. Her name is Miss Wong and I hated Geography lessons until she came, she saw and she conquered. She would always be seen smiling. There is not one trace of hatred in her heart. Here is what she did –




Miss Wong would start the class with a magic spell. She would cast Shower of Praises Level 1 magic spell in the class. Miss Wong would request individual students one at a time to stand up, and she would describe and express the awesome things and attributes she love about us. Maybe 1-2 students a day.


“Abdullah(not his real name), you are a natural born leader. You always amaze me with your quality writings and work in class. Although at times you tend to start fighting and slamming your friends on tables in a, what do you call it? A Tables Match? I really like how much you have tremendously improved and I really think you would be a successful man when you grow up. Stay that way Abdullah and never stop learning,” pointed Miss Wong in an enthusiastic tone.


I tell you, at that juncture.. From another corner in the classroom, I saw a ferocious jungle muddy fat and ugly hippo morph into a smiling and tearing puppy in a very green garden with butterflies and rainbow and all that stuff.


I can also honestly share that as an educator today, showering praises to our students the way my teacher did is an emotional task for me as well. But it is a good feeling.


Try it..!

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