Are you paying attention?

How many times a day do we say that or something similar to our students?

“Michael, are you paying attention?”

“Lily, less talking, more listening.”

“2nd graders, eyes up here.”

“Guys, if you’re talking you’re not going to understand how to do the math…”

On any given day, these types of instructions can be constant, making the kids all…

And the teacher all…

It can be such a challenge to get kids to sit still and focus on the task at hand, that sometimes you just feel like popping in a movie and letting the rest of the day be a total wash.

But while we’re poking and prodding and reminding and nagging our kids to PAY ATTENTION, we sometimes forget to take our own advice.

Sometimes as teachers we become so obsessed and consumed with getting through the material that we forget to pause, take a look at our students and figure out what it is that they need from us.

Do they need a movement break?

Do they need this taught in a different way?

Do they already know this stuff?

Are they bored?

Are we throwing too much information at them at one time?

I know that as teachers we have so many things to juggle that it doesn’t always make sense to stop, listen, regroup and try it again. But would we be better off if we did? If we just took a deep breath, took some time to listen to our students, and figure out a better plan of attack… would we be better off for it?

It’s not feasible to think that as teachers we can be doing that all day, every day. But what about those days when the classroom has erupted into complete pandemonium and you have a spinner over here, someone having a meltdown over there, students just not “getting it”, total weirdness happening right under your nose and a group of kids that have been forced to sit still for far too long? What then? Isn’t it time to stop and pay attention to what your kids are trying to tell you then?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Far too often we ignore the ignore the non-verbal cues, the verbal clues, and the outright requests of our students because we just have to get through “one more thing”. We’re not paying attention! Our students are trying to get us to listen, and we’re not paying attention! Sometimes the best thing we can do as teachers is to stop what we’re doing, drop it, and roll with whatever the kids need from us at that moment. Because if we’re not paying attention and they’re not paying attention… how much learning is really getting done?

3 thoughts on “Are you paying attention?

  1. ketaninkorea says:

    I like to ask the kids who are not paying attention comprehension questions. If they cannot answer them, I have them read the passage aloud, then ask them again. If they don’t pay attention in class, and then fail the exam, I don’t feel too bad, since it’s their own fault. I can help and guide them so far, but they have to take responsibility to learn for themselves.


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