Friday, November 30, 2012

Shhh.....I just need time to think!

   We live in a world of constant motion with a continuous stream of information coming at us from email, cell phones, ipads, and television. We’re checking Twitter and Facebook, seeing who pinned what on Pinterest, following friends on Instagram, and instant messaging. I sometimes feel that I spend my entire day just reacting to the multitude of inputs around me. Sometimes, I just need time to think. I need the world to quiet, and I need to process and reflect. It’s the same for students.
  I think there are two basic kinds of kids. One is the student who raises his hand before you even finish giving directions and asks, “Can we work with a partner?” and the other is the one that quietly walks up to you after hearing directions and says, “Can we work on our own?” Sure, there are a lot of kids who fall somewhere in between, but students tend to lean towards one or the other; the social butterflies or the deep thinkers. Everything I’m reading today talks about collaboration being an important part of instruction and I’m not disagreeing. I spend most of my day collaborating with others and it’s a vital piece of how the world functions. However, I hope that we leave time for our deep thinkers as well. We learn from each other. The quiet ones need to work with the outspoken and learn to get their voice in the room. The ones who are quick to speak need to learn the value of sitting and mulling over their ideas before going with the first one that pops into their heads. It’s all about balance.
  Teachers need to consider this when planning. We have so much material and knowledge that we feel we must impart to our students within a given amount of time that sometimes  classrooms are constantly shifting from this to that with barely time to breath in between.  I’ve been there with my students, and I know we all go home exhausted from the constant pace and the nonstop need to react quickly and move on to what’s next. 
by verbeeldingskr
   How do we find balance? Focus on what’s most important. Know your students and assess what knowledge is needed. Teach your students to ask great questions and coach them through answering them. Use the teacher’s manuals as a guide and not an official mandate for what you need to teach that day. Find what matters most and let go of some of the rest. Give students time for collaboration and time for individual thought. Help them learn to manage the flow of information and become better listeners. Let the social ones teach the quiet ones how to speak out appropriately and let the quiet ones model what it looks like to deep think through a task. Allow time for reflection and a brain break when transitioning between subjects.
  In our fast paced world, think about helping our students learn to thoughtfully react to the stream of information around them, leading to quality collaboration. Sometimes it’s OK to turn off and tune out. We just need time to think.

by Kami Thordarson, Innovative Strategies Coach

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