ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 73, Monday, January 7, 2008
Today I had to remind the students several times that we only do one thing at a time in my classroom. No multi-tasking is allowed. This, of course, goes directly against the tide of the outside "real" world. I guess almost everyone multi-tasks these days as we dash hither and yon trying to get a thousand essential tasks done each day. I see in people's faces the familiar look of stress as they try to keep track of all the 'important' thoughts dashing through their minds. It's like they have 10 things to do and only this very moment to do them in. It's a look of frenzy and fear in a world gone mad with never-ending activity. However, it doesn't work that way in my small classroom. Here the students are allowed to work on only one task at a time. If someone's talking (me or a student), the only thing we do is look and listen (not shuffle papers, or write down assignments, or get a head start on homework). If we're reading aloud from a text, the only thing we do is look at the text and follow along (not gaze out the window or at a friend or at the clock). One thing at a time. It's a very difficult habit for the students to develop, given the outside world's fondness for hurry, hustle, diversion, and distraction. The kids struggle with this new way of working -- this way that says the only sacred moment is the one right now, and the only vital task is the one you're doing at this exact instant.