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Thursday, February 25, 2016

You know that dog from the movie Up?

Well, he's me.  I am distractable.  I mean everything distracts me.  It always has.  In fact, let me describe the very accurate visual that represents how things work in my head:  Picture a bicycle wheel.  Lay it flat.  Imagine each little spoke is a train of thought (not just a single thought, but a whole train). Now, give the whole thing a good hard spin.  That twirling mess is my thought pattern.

I  have coping mechanisms some might consider...unconventional.  In fact, most people think I am crazy, but I can't get anything done unless there are adequate distractions--something I can concentrate on tuning out.

It wasn't until middle school that I really began to feel distracted in class.  My solution: I read a book during classes.  I mean, I also read because I hated most of my peers and I was bored by most of the content, but I could keep up as long as I had a book open in front of me.  I was totally that kid who got in trouble for reading  (I try never to be the teacher who makes a kid feel bad for reading in class).

Anyway, in college I figured out I could get a ton of studying, reading, paper writing etc. done as long as I had people over and a movie on the TV.  I established a policy with my friends: hang out in my room always.  It worked too.  If there was no one around, I kept a movie on and that helped me focus.  If there was no movie and no company, I would get distracted, get up, and leave my room and my studies behind...usually for hours.  That was highly unproductive.

Now I am distracted from my own story! AAAHHHHH!

The point is, in a classroom of noisily productive teenagers (seemingly productive, anyway), I get a little buggy.  And when that noise is unproductive, I completely lose my mind.

One day, not unlike many others, I called a student up to my desk who had been tapping, or singing, or chirping, or some other repetitive crazy-making activity.

I started to explain just how easy it is for me to become distracted and how frustrating I find those random noises.  He was listening, I was talking.

A young lady sitting near my desk, but currently out of my line of sight, suddenly said "Squirrel."

Before I had even registered what she had said, I had stopped mid-word and turned towards her and said "What?"

Every kid in earshot was rolling.  They laughed so hard, the rest of the room demanded an explanation and made her explain the whole story.

She made my point about how easily distracted I am perfectly...even if I did turn fire engine red.  Laughter can have that effect.  It wasn't that they were laughing at me.  OK, they were, but not in a malicious way, I don't think.  She had just managed to catch me in that moment in a way that was by definition embarrassing.

The rest of the hour passed without incident and since then, the random noise quotient has diminished noticeably.

I tell this story for two reasons.

1) It is funny.  I am like that stupid dog.  I accept it and own it and try not to let it get me down.

2) How cool is it that my students know me well enough to see my faults, accept them, and afterwards still learn to help us all build a functioning classroom environment?  It made my day.

1 comment:

  1. So the kid who made all those distracting noises, did he do it in order to stay focused himself?


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