Help Kids Become Attentioneers

Young children dream of riding tracks as train engineers. Use this interest to help them become learning engineers.

Young children dream of riding tracks as train engineers. Use this interest to help them become attentioneers.

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Whether you are on summer break, working a summer job, or at the beginning of a new semester in school, imagine yourself as an engineer in your teaching position…

You are directing the course of events for your class or group of children in any instructional setting.

All aboard to become an attentioneer! Young children love the concept of jumping on board a train driven by a railroad engineer.

Use this interest to help them become attentioneers.

Attentioneers, prepare for a space flyby! Older students relate to project engineers, like the scientists who engineer space explorations.

Set up a mission control station and assign kids to the role of attentioneers.

Add a dose of reality to this activity, if you can, by taking your group on a virtual spaceflight.

Invite kids to a Reach for the Stars and Moon Poetry Party to blast off with writing.

Outer space is a fascinating place! Space engineers are also attentioneers.

When you invite kids to become attentioneers, impress upon them the connection between attentioneers and engineers who steer a train safely to a destination or oversee a space mission.

The connection?

Successful engineers are also attentioneers.

What’s an attentioneer?

Answer: someone who has and uses the ability to stay focused and on task.

How do you help kids become attentioneers?

One answer…

You model being an attentioneer yourself.

Attention on your classroom – Stop at your door the next time you enter where you teach and look around the whole instructional space.

What catches your eye first? What’s the focus of the teaching zone(s)? What looks fresh and inviting?

Before you step any further, ask yourself if your room looks as distracted as you sometimes feel?

Probably not, but it doesn’t hurt to periodically pretend that you’ve never set foot in your room before. Ask yourself how your instructional space makes you feel. Energized or over-tasked? Open to new opportunities or stuck?

Most teachers have limited resources to use in creating spaces that are conducive to learning, but creativity overcomes obstacles.

Teachers are wizards at taking to heart the (American) Depression-era expression: “Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.”

Enhance your teaching effectiveness and enjoyment by becoming an attentioneer about where you teach.

How else can you model being an attentioneer?

Rhyme Time Shout-Out is a great lead into Luscious Literature Day!

Pay attention to yourself as you evaluate how you can model the conduct of an attentioneer. Eye contact is key to focusing.

Attention on yourself – Pay some attention to your face and manner.

Ask if you practice attention skills to the max.

Research, especially from the mid-1990s on, indicates a growing number of adults who complain of feeling overstretched, overbooked, overloaded and frequently distracted.

The connection between these sensations and the proliferation of technology is evident, but for all of us who rely on technology, there’s no turning back.

We may become models of distraction instead of becoming models of attentioneers if we don’t find ways to limit our reliance on technology and multitasking.

Following are four simple steps to sharpen your own attention skills and set the stage for learning.

Consider sharing these steps with students in grades 3 – 5 to help them become attentioneers.

Some modifications may be needed to make these strategies age-appropriate.

  1. Make a note – This may be obvious, but when you’re online and you either think of something you need to do or get drawn to an article or ad or YouTube video that is not related to your purpose for being online, take this simple step: Make a note and get back to it later.
  2. Use your brain muscles – No question, the part of the brain needed for focusing has to be toned to be fit. Research suggests that too much multitasking keeps us from exercising the brain muscles that allow us to focus. Remedies: Reading and meditation to relieve stress and maintain ourselves as attentioneers.
  3. Unplug altogether – Literally and figuratively, it’s healthy to let your computer “go down” by taking a physical exercise break from online activities. Option: Encourage more outdoor play.
  4. Become a culture critic – Ask yourself (and then ask your class) if you/they really believe that your focus is on what’s important when you are online or using other media.

Here’s a piece of research-based good news for teachers looking for additional ways and whys to help students become attentioneers

When you limit your distraction-laced information intake, multitasking and rush rush, the areas of your brain associated with decision-making and goal achievement are strengthened.

Kids may yawn at this concept; if they do, suggest a better night’s sleep!

Teach kids the benefits of becoming attentioneers.

The skills you help them develop to become attentioneers will serve them well throughout their whole lives.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Please send comments about how you help students develop strong attention skills.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet


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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students are acting sluggish in class.

Solution: Show "The BIG E," for ENERGY, an enlarged letter E (or other first letter for the word energy in your alphabet), available in craft stores. Remind the class that energy is a must-have item to get good work done. Tell the class to show you "The BIG E!"

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