I had the privilege of addressing the soon-to-be graduates of the University of Findlay College of Education on April 13. It was a pleasure to speak, although it was tough for me to limit myself to 20 minutes. A copy of the speech and the audio from the speech will be posted to http://ryancollins.org/ as soon as possible.
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 K7.net 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).
For their grandparents, the bicycle was a symbol of childhood independence.
Today, for many kids and young adults, it is the Internet. “It consumes my life,” said Andrea Thomas, a senior at Miami University. “If I’m not texting my friends over the cell phone, I have my laptop with me and I’m IM’ing them. Or I’m doing research on Google. Honestly, the only reason any one of my college friends use the library is for group meetings.”
Does this just enhance the shorter attention span, or is it the root of a deeper problem? Teachers will need to learn to adapt to this new type of student, and bring in lesson plans that not only strive to be engaging, but also use different types of media. The teacher who complains about how bad their classroom behaves is the teacher that only uses the textbook and worksheets.
Need a way to easily create a graph? The National Center for Education Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Education has put together an easy to use tool to create bar, line, area, pie, and XY graphs. Users can email the graph to themselves, which will also give a link to save the graph for 30 days.