I began a course this week about healthy eating. I am a student in this course. One of the key components of eating for health is being present with your meal. To that end, I eat at the table, no electronics or reading, no tv. I take deep, belly breaths before my first bite. I smell, look at, and appreciate the food in front of me. I eat slowly and purposefully.
In my classroom (now a computer screen) where I teach students science, I am present. I pay attention to as many faces as I can while attempting to communicate the lesson. I work through questions and ask further questions of my students. I am on!
I recognize, though, that there are still distractions in my home while I work. The dogs need to go outside (or come back in 30 seconds later), the phone rings and someone leaves a message on my answering machine (yes, I still have one), a delivery comes to the door setting the dogs on a barking fit, one of my children needs assistance, the laundry needs to get done, the lighting is off, and on and on and on. I recognize I can only control what I can control. I work (and am recognizing now that I need to work harder) to be present in my class.
Are my students present, though? I am beginning to wonder if this is the crux of what has bothered me so much about my experience with distance learning. I cannot be certain my students are truly present with me. The space they have to work in may be full of distractions. In my physical classroom, I can control at least some of the distractions. In the digital classroom, students and their families are the only ones able to control the distractions. Unfortunately, sometimes there are distractions from outside sources, too. In communications sent from the school this summer, families were encouraged to set up spaces for students that would encourage learning. Now, I think I need to go further. I need to find a new spin to encourage STUDENTS to be present, fully present, in each lesson.
I would love to hear any ideas or suggestions!
Below are some of the recent distractions at our house 🙂