Day 166 (of 185) distractions….lets blame:_____
Those darned _____ are keeping kids from learning. The blank can be (and has been) filled up with a variety of disruptions. Most recently fidget spinners. More broader it has been mobile technology. All reasons why students are ‘less engaged’ in the classrooms (specifically in older grades) as seen by a few reports:
School cliff photo:
And yet many adults don’t mind ‘distractions’ that worked for them (stuffed animals instead of fidgets) and actions such as reading a book in a lap, hidden by a desk. But try reading a text…….
Yet cards ranging from baseball to Pokémon all seem to be unappreciated by most – I’m ok with them….but I used them as my own ‘self regulation tools’.
So why are we okay with kids using strategies that worked for us, while anything ‘different’ is seen as a distraction. Like any tool, there needs to be a trial period. I know that the popularity of fidget spinners will die down as people are attracted by the shiny new tool cause some distractions to themselves and others (as toys will) but this will fade for many over time….many but not all as some will find them useful to reset themselves (tool).
I am guilty of using a ruler spinning on a pen, and using the ruler as a launching pad for a pen (awesome with an elastic band). Also reading comics and passing notes. Might’ve done some internal estimating of how many numbers I could count until the end of the class.
It’s just a nice mindful reminder that behaviours don’t necessarily equate engagement. Sometimes it is about compliance. And sometimes the kid staring out the window is processing and thinking more deeply than anyone in the room. Sometimes that person texting is just taking notes (been called to the assistant superintendents office for that before). Sometimes the quiet ones who look like they are working hard know that it is a strategy that means they won’t be called on…..
But……while we may want to blame tools for students not being focused on the learning, this is not a new problem or unique phenomena. Engaging lessons; good questions; clear learning intentions and goals are some of the best strategies. And yes, there will always be some students who will be distracted no matter what….,until they aren’t. That’s the challenge – finding ways to engage the student, not removing tools.