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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Advice to New Teachers: Know When You're Beat

Every teacher, no matter how scintillating, must deal with distractions.  In a class of thirty, about ten students on any given day will be preoccupied with personal dramas.  Whether earth-shattering tragedy or mundane young-adult angst, these concerns will distract roughly a third of your audience in every class.  For their sake, you can only hope their classmates take good notes.

But sometimes the distractions are external, and these provide teachers with far greater challenges.  When world events intrude into the classroom sanctuary, teachers must bear down.  Remember, you have a job to do: You are there to provide instruction, and you owe it to your students to remain focused--and to keep them focused--on the task at hand.

I've conducted classes during blizzards and nor'easters.  I conducted a class the week of 9/11.  I even managed to keep my students relatively engaged just a couple of nights ago, even as the news was sweeping the campus that President Obama had just been re-elected.  But even I have to admit when a distraction proves too overwhelming for even the most giffted of teachers to resist:

When a family of raccoons is frolicking on the lawn outside your classroom window, you might as well just let the kids go early.

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