Host a Focus Forum to Grow Attention Skills

Teachers discuss the distractions that detract from the learning process in their classrooms.

Teachers can meet at a Focus Forum to discuss ways to grow attention skills to benefit themselves and the students they serve.

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

Not a day goes by without some news somewhere in the world that relates to the negative impact of distractions.

Conversations come and go about the best way to address this important issue…for adults, as well as for children.

Host a Focus Forum – If distractions affect you, your students and your school, make a list of questions to consider around this challenge…

questions to address when you host a Focus Forum to grow attention skills.

How Are We Doing? – We’re never too old to grow our attention skills.

Gather colleagues together who work with you on curriculum, classroom management, or school as community.

Collaboration is an effective way to work.

Set a time to meet and agree to focus on growing attention skills that will:

1) enrich your programs.

2) become models for the students you serve.

Begin by agreeing not to take anything for granted.

Ask questions that relate to your school’s goals.

What’s going well?


What do we need to do better?

Why? How?

What do we have already to help improve?

What do we need and need to do to make needed changes?

In the face of constant change, taking time to stop, review, reflect and renew is more important than ever.

What can you include on your Focus Forum agenda?

Outline steps to follow and include a way to monitor progress.

Track Progress with a Chart – When you introduce adults (and students at a later time) to the concept of growing attention skills, make a colorful chart to track progress over time. Use technology for your graphics, or create an eye-catching chart with art supplies to display in school.

Make a colorful chart to track students' progress growing attention skills.

Make a colorful chart to track students’ progress growing attention skills.

Share the chart at the Focus Forum with colleagues. They may want to use it with their classes.

As part of the chart, create an Attentionology Tree that includes different colored leaves.

Explain that each leaf color stands for a partner in the process of staying on task in school.

Key partners include teachers, students and parents.

When we grow attention skills we add leaves to fill out the tree.

Smart Steps to Grow Attention Skills – Follow a four-step assessment strategy that is especially useful at the beginning of a new school year or semester.

You and your colleagues can use the titles of these four steps as a guide for creating your own Focus Forum agenda.

When you introduce the steps to older elementary students, do so one at a time…

STEP # 1 – STOP – Give students a “heads up” ahead to let them know that everyone will be asked to stop their end-of-day activity soon to allow time for a self-assessment of their learning progress and attention skills.

STEP # 2 – REVIEW – When you have the class’ attention, invite your students to silently think over what they’ve accomplished in school that day, week, month, or term .

Review time may also include reading over a list that you’ve posted with a schedule or objectives, etc.

In addition, you may offer students review questions to guide this part of the self-assessment.

Better still, you may work collectively with your class to come up with effective review questions for them to use. This option will help your students develop strong organizational skills as well as strengthen the class’ learning alliance.

STEP # 3 – REFLECT – Reflection is personal so you will likely want to leave this part of the self-assessment open-ended. However, it may help students to have some guiding questions for this most creative part of the process.

Questions may include, for example:

  • “What did I do especially well in school during the time period under review?”
  • “What activities were most difficult for me and why?”
  • “Did I work hard to stay on task during math, reading, writing time, etc.”
  • “How can I be a better listener and a better learner?”
  • “Did I contribute to my own goals and those of my classmates?”

STEP # 4 – RENEW – You want your students to feel energized by the self-assessment so that they are renewed for the coming days.

Consider playing music after you complete the four-step process.

Some children enjoy singing after demanding work, like assessments. Others enjoy physical activity, like stretching to music.

Conclude the self-assessment in a way that will help students feel ready for more learning.

Partners in Learning – Hosting a Class Focus Forum helps students feel more like partners in their own education and less like young people pressed to attend school.

What strategies do you use to help yourself and your students evaluate progress in class? Please send comments.

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

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.
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