Attention Deficit: The Other Kind

The biggest challenge students present in the classroom: attention deficit. No, not the clinical kind related to paying attention, but rather the literal kind related to getting it. The problem is that most kids need more attention than they typically get. Success or failure as a teacher thus has a lot to do with how you handle a classroom full of kids striving to bring their attention deficits into balance.

And to me it all starts with the assumption that every action by every student at every moment is aimed at getting attention—even sneezing in the case of one of my students. Click here for more on the student who achoo-ed for attention, and for keys to narrowing students’ attention deficits—and maybe even creating surpluses.

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4 Responses to Attention Deficit: The Other Kind

  1. Dr. Ron says:

    I’ve been working with teachers, administrators, and students in three schools from K – 12. A common thread I see in all three schools is the student mindset of needing to be acknowledged constantly with constant feedback of any sort, so long as it is feedback that acknowledges that student. Classroom management is essential, and no teaching and learning at any significant level can occur in chaos. There are so many approaches and ideas as to how the student of today can or should be addressed, focused, entertained, educated…call it what you wish. I remain perplexed at the difficulty of asking a classroom of students at any level to stop talking. If you were to focus on one talking student and ask him/her to stop talking, the reply typically is, “I’m not talking.” This can go back and forth for quite a few rounds. The point is that the student does not shut his mouth. Ask a classroom of students, “What should you do if the teacher asks a question and you raise your hand and do not get called on?” Invariably, I see replies that students then need to call out, wave the raised hand, make sounds, snap fingers, stand up, but never give up. Students need to be heard. When asked if maybe the teacher didn’t call on you because he/she knows you know the answer and maybe another student needs to respond…the look of confusion and disbelief is amazing. It appears that it’s everyone for himself and no group mentality of let’s do this together (teacher included). In one beginning teacher workshop (high school), the group of new teachers addressed the talking matter in a very interesting and disbelieving way. When they ask the students to stop talking, one group indicated to the new teacher that this is what they do and that the teacher should just go on and basically not worry about their conversations. This seemed to register to the new teachers as either acceptable or tolerable as there seems to be no other solution. Again, do we need to captivate and entertain the class so that they can listen and learn? How does this relate to the world of work, college life, and general socialization in today’s world?

  2. David Ginsburg says:

    Thanks for your comments, Dr. Ron. You’ve pretty much summed up my struggles as a new teacher, as well as those of many teachers I’ve coached over the years. And the one thing in common among teachers I’ve known who’ve overcome these struggles is that we knew students would only change in response to us changing. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not condoning the kinds of behavior you’ve written about. But there’s usually something in the way we’re managing our classrooms that needs to change before students’ behavior will change. I’m sharing here the changes I made that paid off for my students and me. But as you said there are many approaches, so I hope you and other readers will share what’s worked for you. And check out my previous post, “Classroom Turnaround Plan,” for a process I’ve used with many teachers to help them identify and prioritize changes that have made the difference for them and their students.

    • JE says:

      Help!! I have a classroom that wants to follow the lead of the adults at town hall meetings last summer. Their goal is the complete disruption of class. If I have to redirect them at any point they love it! They have won. I’ve changed my teaching strategy completely and rarely have full class lecture any more. Its all small group work (science class). But I would love to read your Classroom Turnaround Plan. Where is it???!!!

      • David Ginsburg (aka Coach G) says:

        Sounds rough, but not unique–I’ve experienced this too. And yes, the classroom turnaround plan should help. Here’s the link to the post,from which you can then access the full article: http://ginsburgcoachingtt.wordpress.com/2009/12/12/pinpointing-and-solving-classroom-problems%e2%80%94now/.

        Be sure also, though, to really take the time to reflect on the 10 strategies I present in this article that you’ve replied to. Some really powerful behavior management strategies that have made a huge difference for me and many teachers I’ve coached.

        Best wishes, and let me know if you need further help troubleshooting.

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