It is a very common concept that the students adapt what you do. Their age does not matter if you spend enough time with them within the class, whatever you are doing reflects in them after a while. This is easily detected in the younger ones but the elder students also adapt a lot of things you do and this all happens unnoticeably and unintentionally. They adapt almost everything good and bad. As an educator and a teacher, it is very important to stay aware of what you are doing to leave a good influence on your students. Ultimately everything comes down to one thing and that is focus. How focused are you during any task is an important question. A huge distraction in your focus is due to the notifications and social media apps on your phone. How many times have you picked up your phone to check your apps and the notifications in the last fifteen minutes? It is a very important thing to understand how we are losing our focus and not paying our complete attention to the more important things. These kinds of distractions are harmful and they cause delays in your work, take your work far beyond the deadlines and cause you a great trouble as a teacher for whom time is everything.
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The constant switching between app to app and app to your important task is unhealthy and has direct negative effects on the lessons you are planning and on your classroom. The difficult part of it all is that all of the major distractions are around us all the time. We may have a social media website open in one tab when we are on PC browser, or have our phone nearby which needs to be around for important messages and calls can’t be missed just because you can’t keep away from your phone. How does a teacher successfully combat all of these challenges and secure their classrooms from the negative impact for ‘distraction sicknesses’? Banning phone, tabs or screens in your class is not the only way out of this and better solutions must be found and adapted.
You can try these three things in your classroom with your students when you can see that there is some uneasiness in the students and an urge to pick up the phones and check them whenever there is silence in the class.
1- Objective Based lesson plan: When your class seems to suffer with the distractions and you can see that there is an apparent need of checking the phone every now and then, here is what you can do. Give your lessons measurable objectives. Make the objectives clear and make sure each and every student has understood the objective behind the task. Of course a time deadline will work just fine in this task. Always be very sure during communicating such important things with the class that all eyes and ears are on you before any instructions are explained. The objective should be practical and entirely relevant to the lesson. This strategy is called teaching by design. Have a set of objectives written beside the lesson plan and these objectives should be communicated and explained to the students so that they can focus on the result too. This is a fast way of getting everyone’s focus back to where it should be. Plan the lessons is a way that you can make observations in the end of each one of them. After the lesson is over, once you have the evaluations made, discuss it with your students in a meeting and talk about the task and their progress. This way they will be more focused on the task next time and will be encouraged to do so.
2- Transition Activities and Recap: Thoroughly planned out activities done at the beginning of the lesson you are conducting will set your students in the right mood and will help them transition from what they were doing before this class to what they are about to do. Help them in the recap of what you did yesterday or in the previous class. Now this is not necessary that you must be continuing from where you left off the previous lesson and might be concluded then. You can always do a recap of the last class even if it is not relevant to the lesson that will be taught today. Or, you can start by the strategy of tapping on prior knowledge. You can begin by asking students what they know about a certain concept. Go with the theme of your current lesson as ask them if they know anything about it. Take their responses and write them in front of them on the board. Now that they are paying full attention, you have not only achieved their focus, but you also have raised a million questions in their minds about what you are going to teach them.
3- Include appropriate mindfulness activity: There shouldn’t be any rush for anything in the class. Sometimes the plan is to do a lot of things in the class, communicate a lot of things with the students and you have to rush in to a lesson and get over with it. Incorporating mindfulness wherever you can will bring stress relief within the students and help them visualize their problems and what they like to do and what they are weak in doing. Not only that it will have their focus back in pace and make them ready for a lesson, meditative exercises if done effectively and if incorporated in daily plans can bring a positive outcome with lesser stressed class.
There are far too many things if strategically used can help you in the class and help the students. A lot of great books and free content is available online and in the libraries. Focus is important to take in new information with ease and to be present and more alert when it is needed.