Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Multitasking Teachers

The Multitasking Teacher-it's not just the students doing it!

Sorry, what did you say? I was trying to submit attendance while you asked when the assembly begins. In order to be a good teacher I have to slow time and demands down so that I can give attention to doing a good job-it saves time in the end.

Like many teachers, I operate under the assumption that I can do many things at once: monitor students in the hall, take attendance, begin a class warm-up, give students returning from absence their make-up work and answer a question from another student about last-night's homework. Whoops-there's an announcement, 4 students were just called to pick up items in the office at the next class change. Where was I?

While there ARE things that I can do in combination such as record attendance and return papers, there are many things that just cannot be done well if not given enough attention. Routines in the classroom alleviate many of the multitasking issues for me, so that students know when the right time is to confirm make-up work (at the end of the 1st 10 minute chunk when I can answer you individually), when the right time for questions about homework is (second 5 minutes when I'm asking for feedback and questions so that we can all benefit from the answer). Students new to my class in 7th grade take about three weeks to learn the routine, so I find myself saying "Patientia" quite a bit.

Students can learn patience and increase their attention to the task at hand. I've had a few students so accustomed to getting the answer on the spot, having the teacher jump to meet needs immediately, that they will actually follow on my heels repeating the question after I've indicated that I've heard them and will be responding at the appropriate time! Luckily, the neediness for them to be able to "click" on me to get an answer wanes and the trust that the appropriate time will present itself grows. The students slow down the demands and I can focus on each element of my class completely. Happily, when I do slow down, the students relax too and everyone seems to feel more satisfied with the result.

What are some routines that you hope to establish this year so that you don't feel pulled in six directions at once? How do you help students establish their own routines that build their confidence and increase their attention on the task at hand?


shelley said...

I am a recovering multi-tasker! (Still working on that).

I admire the writing of Wong & Wong; the book The First Days of School is a classic for me. I though Wong's philoshophy works well for our elementary learners. We create our routines, rules, and policy...then we (forever) practice. We are always open to alter as needed.

P.S. Some days (years) are easier than others! :D

Andrea Weis said...

Thanks, Shelley! I have supportive colleagues and we are working on this as a group. Everyone slooooooow down and hear.