Undivided Attention

Attention.  Class, listen please.  I’m ready to start, please take your seats.  We have lots to learn today, so let’s get focused.  Class?  Class?

I have to admit, it is sometimes difficult to get everyone on the same page.  Imagine putting yourself in the position of obtaining, and keeping, the attention of  30 fidgety teens; all at the same time…6 times a day.  It isn’t impossible, but sometimes it takes more than the magic I possess and I start to pray for some intervening event; an event that will pull them all in the same direction and put them all in the same mental space; something that will give me their undivided attention.

You see, the attention of teens is sporadic, sometimes nonexistent, and always susceptible to interruption. Perhaps the greatest skill a teacher can possess in the classroom is her ability to gain attention and hold it, releasing her captives only when her mission is complete.  This is something I must do every day.  Some days it’s easy; they fall into line like highly trained cadets and follow my lead without fail.  Some days it feels like an exercise in futility; snow, fire drills, student assemblies, potty breaks, and the one kid in the back of the room that just won’t get on board and decides to make it his mission to ruin my plans by pulling attention off of me and onto him.  I have come to realize over the years that I can’t give up, I can’t quit, because they are counting on me to pull them into my world for the next 45 minutes.  

I want my students to eagerly waltz into class, full of anticipation and excitement about what I am going to share with them that day.  I want to be able to hold their focus and amp-up their curiosity  with just one word.  In short, “I want to teach like the new falling snow.”




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