Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!
The Distraction-Quotient continues to rise in many parts of the world as January, 2014 reaches mid-point.
Article after article in a wide array of sources point to the increasing impact that distractions have on our lives.
Are we powerless to avoid so many daily disruptions? I don’t think so, but I do believe that it will take a concerted effort to navigate new pathways to help children be successful – pathways that are less noisy – noisy in every sense of the word.
Two Key Questions – 1) What can we do to increase or better maintain students’ attention by decreasing the distractions that permeate elementary school settings?
2) What can we do to counter the negative effects of unavoidable distractions on ourselves and the students we teach?
Time Well Spent – Consider adding Attentionology to the agenda for your next staff meeting.
Send out a notice ahead asking meeting attendees to make a list of the distractions that intrude on an average school day. Ask attendees to come prepared to discuss changes that might be possible to decrease distractions to better maintain students’ attention on learning.
When your staff is together, acknowledge that some distractions are unavoidable, but challenge each other to be creative in your thinking about new ways to conduct school business to achieve fewer interruptions in the core learning process.
We don’t have to embrace, do we, the concept of: Why do we do things this way with the answer: because we’ve always done it like that, or because we’re swamped already and can’t counter the culture.
The new year is a good time to consider new school policies that will help staff and students alike, even policies that counter the prevailing culture.
Name Those Distractions! – Have you noticed like I have…
that distractions are so pervasive, it’s mandatory to have attention-getting tools and tricks at hand throughout a school day to manage well. Distractions include:
– frequent advisories from the main office to teachers and students well after morning announcements and right smack in the middle of lessons
– children getting out of their seats willy-nilly to grab tissues
– students inadvertently making annoying sounds with plastic water bottles on their desks as they drink throughout lessons
– children walking in front of a teacher or guest speaker who is conducting a lesson on their way out of the classroom for a special class or early dismissal
– students interrupting a lesson to ask about homework while they stuff materials in their backpacks as they abruptly prepare for early dismissal
– children loudly opening and closing the classroom door as they come and go in the middle of lessons
Might it be possible to decrease distractions and better maintain students’ attention to aid the learning process by…
- consulting with the principal about the possibility that main office announcements could be limited to twice a day, at the start of school and a half-hour before the day ends. Teachers would be able to factor this schedule into their plans.
- alert students in all grades to pay attention to morning and afternoon announcements when the public address system is on. (I’ve noticed over time that many students completely disregard announcements, and many teachers miss the opportunity to insist that the class be quiet and listen to them.)
- distribute tissues at the beginning of a school day and advise students that they may not leave their seats without permission, via raising their hands.
- announce times during the school day when students can move freely about the classroom, for example, during group projects, to allow students to expend energy as children need to do.
- teach children basic protocols for courtesy, such as NOT walking in front of a speaker but rather to the back of the classroom when exiting, so as not to be disruptive. If children don’t learn these important behaviors at home, they can be taught as part of character education. The key word is RESPECT.
I’ve devised strategies to keep students focused when I’m teaching and any number of the above distractions occur. One quick tool I use is a short rhyme I made up. When students start to lose their focus on me I interrupt myself and say…
People come, people go,
this is today’s classroom flow.
Stay tuned in where you need to be,
Ears up here, eyes on me!
The Distraction Quotient has grown so, that teachers will do well to find new ways to increase or better maintain students’ attention. We need to commit to finding more effective ways to decrease distractions.
Please send comments about strategies you use to handle distractions and disruptions in school.
Remember, you don’t have to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!
Look for Mid-Week Focus here on Wednesday.
Talk with you again soon,
Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet