How Can I Reduce Distractions In The Classroom?
Every teacher will deal with distractions in the classroom. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce distractions, including policies and procedures, a solid organizational structure, and building appropriate relationships with students. Utilizing these strategies can lead to a more structured learning environment or even a more comfortable one where noise is a good thing.
You should consider three things when creating classroom policies. First, you should model what you want the students’ behavior to be. For example, if you want students to be quiet for a certain amount of time, set a visible timer for your students, and enforce the “no talking” rule for that time. Early in the year, it is essential to have shorter “no talking” times. Then, you can stretch those moments out as your students become more comfortable with routines.
Second, any discipline policy should be consistent across the board. If Johnny starts talking, he should receive the same consequences that Sally, Jamal, or Phil receive. While you might have a favorite student, you should not allow that favoritism to color your judgment on an issue. Some teachers even report that they are harder on their favorite students to avoid the appearance of bias, which is also not the right way to go.
Finally, your discipline policy should make sense. For example, you should not send a student to the office if they begin talking. Instead, one option is to take a few moments before or after class to ask the student if something is wrong.
Keep Things Organized
It’s advised that the organization helps to reduce distractions in schools. One way to implement a sense of organization is through the use of cubbies in the classroom. This way, students can claim their own cubbies, place important or necessary items there, and retrieve them when they need them. For example, a social studies teacher can create a timeline project using binder rings and note cards with information on them. A cubby system would allow students to leave their timeline project in the classroom rather than risk taking the project home and losing it.
Another way to limit distractions is by organizing the classroom. Teachers can clearly label where necessary school supplies are and give students room to access them. For example, if you are teaching an art class, students will need access to colored pencils or paint being used at the time. Also, students who are not in a tech-based classroom will need access to writing tools and paper. If students need to access class materials, encourage them to go in the opposite direction from where the action is. For example, a teacher lecturing in the front would encourage students to circle to the back of the class to reach the necessary supplies, rather than standing in the way of the other students who are focusing on the lecture.
Finally, teachers can plan some distractions in the classroom. The modern idea of time blocking, precisely the Pomodoro method, works well in this instance. The Pomodoro method works by intensive focus for 25 minutes, followed by rest for 5 minutes. This could be applied to the classroom by encouraging students to focus for 15 minutes in an hour-long class and allowing them to take a break for 2 to 3 minutes. This break will enable students to clear their thoughts and realign their thinking to the task, which would be especially useful if students are writing.
Building Appropriate Relationships With Students
Building appropriate relationships with students is one of the most cited ways to reduce distractions, but in many cases, it is the least understood. There are several ways to build relationships with students that not only minimize distractions but also maintains an appropriate teacher/student relationship. The first and most obvious is to learn more about your students, and allow them to learn more about you. Building any positive relationship includes building trust, which you can accomplish by allowing students small glimpses into your life. For example, if you are a teacher with a baby girl, tell your students about the cute thing she did last night at dinner. This will help students understand you are a real person and not just a teacher. Conversely, find out about your students’ lives, their interests, and their passions.
There are many ways to reduce distractions in the classroom. By building relationships, it will be easier to bring your students back to focus because they know and trust you. By planning out your classroom organization, you can avoid creating distractions for your students. By building a consistent discipline policy, you can teach students how to behave.
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