1. Keri

    If the work we were providing for and, better yet, creating with students was compelling enough and they could have more choice in how the work needed to get done, with authentic deadlines, of course, then it wouldn’t matter if students checked out or took a break from time to time. They would want to come back to the work to continue.

  2. Emma Cowan

    I couldn’t agree with you more. There have been many times when a quick break with a funny cat video have been just what I needed to get past the dreaded mental block! I believe this is the same for students but like you said this is not a cut and dry issue.

  3. It is so important to think about what we as adults need to do our best work, and then apply that to students. They need similar things, like brain breaks and freedom. Snacks. Ability to use the bathroom when they need to use the bathroom. Water. Movement. Encouragement. We could go on and on.

    Love your questions in the beginning and the emotions and thinking they provoke. Thank you for bringing up this topic.

  4. I totally agree with this. As an administrator, I found that many colleagues would be on their e-mail or social media while at meetings at the district office.

    The reason for this was pretty simple. These meetings were all about compliance and rarely about engagement or empowerment.

    How can we expect our teachers or students to engage when the model we experience as administrators is one based on blind compliance? How do we learn to innovate when we are not encouraged to become engaged in true decision-making about how to become innovative as a district?

  5. Hey Pal,

    I’m down with all of this. I get really tired of my peers who are all about compliance and “on task” behavior simply because they are RARELY compliant or on task throughout the course of their own work days. Distraction doesn’t mean a student is not learning, particularly when they are (1). taking a brain break from a teacher’s lesson that has left them mentally overwhelmed or (2). wondering about a related question that has sparked their interest.

    As a classroom teacher, I’ve always looked at distracted kids as my own fault.

    If I create lessons that are interesting and that reflect best practice around student learning and needs, my kids won’t be distracted. It’s only when I create lessons that are not developmentally appropriate — or just plain boring as hell — that I l lose my students.

    Teachers don’t like to hear that, though. They want to “hold students accountable” without reflecting on the impact that their own choices are having on students as learners. That has to change.

    Rock on,

  6. On task behaviours are distinct from ‘in task’ behaviours. For me, recognizing the triggers that pull me out of my edu-Flow and mediating their gravity, means that I can remain inside a task longer – if I choose to. Deeper reflection and awareness of my triggers also helps me to notice instances where my distraction is a positive intervention from my brain, telling me to watch a few moments of Fail Army or Stuff breaking in Slow motion on YouTube. The refreshment that comes from dancing with my self-awareness is key for me, sharing this practice with students is critical to their development, avoiding prefab absolute notions of compliance keeps us in cool convos like this.

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