- - those last minute adjustments to assignments
- -picking up on any late work
- -actually showing up to class instead of just leaving your recorder there
- -cramming information into our brains for quick purging
Loans and scholarships are all on the line now, and for a fraction of time, all life stops in the fast lane. It’s death bed repentance time – we are making the grade baby!
Making the grade baby!
I’m just as guilty as the next student, at least in my undergrad days I was; not so much through my masters. Taking our bodies and minds to the level of non-functioning, just for a little alphabetic character on a piece of paper - it's insanity.
What makes us do that to ourselves? Unconsciously or consciously we fought sleep - up until 2:00 a.m. or later - if we slept at all. We then drug our unhappy selves to class at the butt crack of dawn. We lived for that college life- Right?
We lived for college life!
I’m a distracted learner through and through. I can sit in the middle of a room with nothing to do, and I will still be able to distract myself. I don’t need any outside help to do that either. If I have assignments in front of me, I will toss and turn any number of concepts around in my mind, making great strides – at least until I see something shiny on the floor. Focus? What focus? For a few moment's I am in mental bliss, at least until I return to the task at hand - namely homework.
Something shiny on the floor
I am in the mindset of believing that maybe I am normal after all. I watch my 9th and 10th- grade students struggling with the same issues I had (and still do). Sitting in a hard chair with nothing in front of you but a cold table is really not anyone’s idea of a warm and fuzzy experience. I am the one with the soft chair, not them. My experience is different of course.
The best advice I could give to any teacher new or old - is to build in distractions. Don’t wait for your students to find distractive measures themselves, build those key distractive breaks into your curriculum. Twenty minutes of study equals 5 to 10 minutes of light to mild distraction. It could still be a learning distraction – just something different, or on a related topic.
Some would ask how I would assess this distractive learning paradigm. I look at this way. If students who do not normally turn in assignments or have at least a passing GPA- all of a sudden start looking like the average student - guess what? You get to go to the front of the class!
Then comes the question, what about those students who can’t refocus? Or those students who are already self-lead learners and like peace and quiet. What I have done with my students is to switch out the quiet time with bird sounds, ocean and/or anything peaceful found in nature. I have obtained good reaction from both pairs of students. Any group is going to be dynamically different. You just have to find the right built-in distractions without losing the motivational aspects of learning.
Sounds are a good distraction, but so are those upbeat pieces of information that help students readjust, recenter, and perform better. Types of distractive information might include:
- -Word of the Day
- -Piecewise brain twister
- -Notice of an upcoming celebration on how well they have performed
- -Or just something fun that is about them, and something they take to heart.
The human mind can learn more than one thing at a time. If you allow your brain short breaks from the tedious routines of study, it tends to reflect better on items it has just learned. Use pre-designed breaks as a scaffolding tool for learning. This following statement is a no brainer statement – I understand. But, you retain more when you aren’t stressing out over a problem.
Experiment with this distractive styles of learning. If you are already in a quagmire wondering how to motivate your students – this might be a helpful resource. Back away from the idea that you have to stain and look like a zombie to be successful in your studies. Look at something shiny on the floor, and then come back to your primary focus. Come back gently. The problem isn’t going to go away, but if you allow your brain a short power break, you might find you come back with a solution. Solutions are always much better than problems anyways.
Good luck. I wish all educators success as they venture into the “new”.
Making the Grade Baby!