Doing something once is okay, but creating a positive, predictable and practical tool repeated enough to be called a ritual is even better.
Many are as simple as raising your hand and asking others to raise their hand once they see your hand is up. This simply means you want the group’s attention.
When others see that other’s hands are up, they too raise their hand. Soon, they entire group has their hand up and the room is quiet.
Also: 1) You clap once, then say, “If you can hear me, clap twice.” Then you clap twice and say, “If you can hear me clap three times.” Then you clap three times and say, “If you can hear me, clap four times.” Then you clap four times. By this time, all your audience will be clapping with you and ready for you to jump in and start talking with complete attention.
These are strategies that are used the moment the group is back from: 1) yesterday’s class 2) the previous class 3) a break 4) lunch.
Almost any tool, vehicle or group response activity can be used if it is: a) short, b) solves the “return to seats” problem, c) ends in a positive state, d) engages everyone.
An example would be if, when the group’s back, you said, “If you made it back on time, raise your hand and say, ‘Yes!’ Now, turn to your nearest neighbor and say, ‘Welcome back!’”
This aligns the group, reorients them to you and their social
structure and quiets them for a couple of seconds. Naturally, you’ll need to jump
in right after that moment and begin the class before the noise starts up again.
Breath is affects us powerfully. Stretching helps engagement.
Taking in a deep breath is often a precursor to taking on a challenge or knowing something is coming up. You might say, “Let’s pause for a minute. Take in a slow deep breath… inhale, inhale and hold it. Now, slowly release it out. Very good. Now, one more time. Breathe in slowly, as if you’re taking in a divine gift. A little more… very good. Now, hold it ….and slowly exhale as if you’re releasing all the stress of the day.”
After the breath, there’s a pause in anticipation of the next thing.