New research shows that meetings and interruptions have a negative effect on our well being that may “…contribute to burnout, anxiety, depression and other negative emotions“. Combine meetings with interruptions from students, parents, other teachers, and principals, and you have a recipe for grouchy teachers! A person takes 8-10 minutes to get back into a creative state following one interruption. Here are some ideas I had to help you minimize or eliminate interruptions:

  • Students – Lay down rules on when a student is allowed to ask questions or contribute to a discussion. Create procedures for the student to follow to request help or use the bathroom. One idea to ask for help is to use a simple paper cup. If the cup is on the student’s desk or computer, he would like a moment of your time at your earliest convenience.
  • Parents – Notify parents when you are available, and distribute your e-mail address. Let them know they are free to e-mail you at any time. Keep the lines of communication open, but tell them that you are not available to take a call during the day. Sign up for a free voicemail account at and give that number out to parents. K7 can e-mail you your voice mail.
  • Teachers – A simple thing such as “If the door is closed, email me” can work wonders.
  • Office – Notify the office that you check e-mail twice a day, and that it is your preferred method of communication. Along the same lines, be sure to check your e-mail twice a day! 🙂 Follow the idea for teachers above, and close the door when possible.
  • General Ideas – The best line of defence is a good offence. Let others know what interruptions are acceptable to you. You have e-mail, use it to eliminate as many interruptions as you can.

The key is to put you in control of your interruptions, and let you take care of them when you have time. Everything above is workable (except for emergencies).

1 thought on “Don’t interrupt me

  1. The experiment in this article was to test meetings on managers feelings proving that meetings cause negative feelings. Only in one paragraph do they mention interruptions and it seemed to be info from the 1990s. I feel there are 2 kinds of interruptions; direct and indirect. Since I share a room with other teachers, indirect interuptions such as some one coming in quietly and getting something off the shelf or sitting at a desk or computer working doesn’t bother me. Most of the time I don’t even notice. I think the info about interruptions was more about direct interutions where some one calls or talks to you without any warning. My students are supposed to raise their hands and wait to be recognized before talking. That gives me enough warning to change my attention and doesn’t seem to be an interruption. If you need to work on one of my computers, then come on in and sit down and work. I may not even realize you’re there and if I do it WILL NOT cause me any stress.

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