Yesterday during our PLC time, we took a look at the data from our most recent MAP tests, drew some conclusions, and worked to refocus our efforts on specific students.
As we did this, the conversation drifted towards just that: focus. One my group mates references an article talking about how Generation X relates to Generation Y to Generation Z. One of the things we talked about within that was simply how students learn, how we assume they feel entitled for that extra copy or an extra day or that they need thing to go “their way”. For some, this is very true, there is a huge sense of entitlement for whatever reason. However, as we talked, it’s more than just that. Students watch as their parents want something and in three mouse clicks and a couple of days, they have it. Almost instant gratification. If they are asked a question, Google + a little bit of common sense = solution. Almost instant gratification. However, that instant gratification, that “I can get it now” mentality plays havoc with the ability to keep focus for long. As we test students, they are expected to remain locked in for 40, 50, 60 minutes at a time. We expect students to be able to sit and read for 20 minutes at a time, when a couple of the teachers openly admitted that it’s hard for them to do that anymore.
I think about “Teach Like a Pirate” or “Teach Like Your Hair Is On Fire” where we should be pushing the envelope, be creative in our delivery, a strive to make sure connections are being made to what it is we are teaching. You’ll not hear be arguing this at all! However, I think we overlook one of the mainstays of the Daily 5: (an outstanding method of organizing literacy) stamina. One of the first things that the students learn in the Daily 5 is basically how to read for extended periods of time. They have “right fit” books, books of their lexile and interest, and they read. We talk about what this looks like, how it sounds like, what a teacher might be doing during this time, all of it. Why aren’t we teaching stamina with focus? How do we create that atmosphere where focus is something that is the norm? Does it need to be? For me personally, I’d say yes, it should be something we strive for. My students get tired of me simply saying “focus” when we are working on something.
Are we at a time where focusing on a task isn’t as necessary as it used to be? Where we can “multi-task” our way through numerous things at once? Is that what we want someone who’s looking at their phone, checking email, and talking with us? Or is this something we as teachers need to look at a little more closely, how to model that idea of stamina throughout the day? I know our plates are full: character education, online safety, overcrowded classrooms, and the list go on. However, are we doing our students a disservice by not trying to show what that idea of being focused, locked into a task is and how it is not a bad thing to NOT check email or texts constantly.
So, when your email notification pops, your phone rings, text chimes or whatever other social media pops up, is it worth it to check right there and then? Or is it something that can wait as we are in the moment with those people we are with? Is that what we want for our students, to learn what it’s like to be more in the moment?
I don’t know, honestly, I don’t. And I know it’s hard to practice what I preach, but it’s something I’m trying to do a bit more. Just something to ponder as the newness of the year moves on from us! 🙂