Classroom Management Techniques: Call-and-Response

bell in classroom

A few years ago, I started using a new technique for getting the young people’s attention: call-and-response. When I would say, “God is good,” the young people would respond, “all the time.” Then I would say, “And all the time,” to which the young people would respond, “God is good.”

I borrowed the idea from another catechist and the specific phrase from a priest who served at a local parish. The technique’s effectiveness has been mixed. I like that it’s a way to grab attention when kids are chattier than they should be, and it reinforces a basic faith idea at the same time. But sometimes the young people forget the response or miss the call altogether.

This year my group keeps forgetting what their response should be. To my call, “God is good,” a few people respond, “God is great.” While not the expected response, the message is certainly right! This has now happened two weeks in a row, but at least we are reinforcing that the call deserves a response, even if it’s not a coordinated one at present. Fortunately, this particular group of young people is well-behaved overall, so I’ve used the call-and-response mainly to draw their attention back to the front of the room after a partner activity or art activity.

The technique is one way to practice classroom management in a friendly way. We know that most catechists don’t have formal training in classroom management; the call-and-response technique is an easy way to grab young people’s attention that works at any grade level. It also allows young people to practice responding to something in a way similar to our liturgical responses at Mass.

You might want to vary the call-and-response throughout the year. Changing the message can be good for keeping the idea fresh and reinforcing ideas from class (depending on the phrase chosen), but I like to use the same message all year. Once the class learns the phrasing, we can skip it for a few weeks and still come back to a familiar phrase as needed during our time together.

Have you used a call-and-response technique to help in classroom management? What other ideas do you have for getting young people’s attention when it wanders?

About Denise Gorss 57 Articles
Denise Gorss is a catechist with 16 years experience, mostly in junior high. She appreciates the gifts of Ignatian spirituality and likes sharing various types of prayer with the young people in her groups. She enjoys seeing the world on pilgrimages and lives in the Chicago area, where she works as Web Editor at Loyola Press.

6 Comments on Classroom Management Techniques: Call-and-Response

  1. Great Denise! I will try your idea and I will pass it on to our catechists.
    Thank you very much!
    Take care, God bless you all as we continue to follow in Jesus’ footsteps,
    MJ

  2. This is good for memorization what I have used is (focus up) of course you practice with the students so that wherever you are in the room their focus will be on you ( be ready)

    • JM, you’re right that the responses need practice to be effective attention-getters. The first year I tried this technique, I left the call and response phrases on the board for easy reference.

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