How Should Teachers React to Interruptions During the School Day?

Limiting distractons — both internal and external – can go a long way in helping your students learn the most during classtime.
Limiting distractons — both internal and external – can go a long way in helping your students learn the most during classtime. | Source

While one person may consider scheduled assemblies an “interruption”, teachers often know about the frequency and dates of class assignments ahead of time and can plan their classroom schedule around the plans of the school. Unless there is an emergency assembly— due to a safety hazard or school issue— teachers are often able to plan lectures and activities to account for school assemblies accordingly.

Sudden announcements, however, which interrupt the teacher’s train of thought and normal daily activities, can impede the learning process and affect the teacher’s overall plan or scope and sequence, however these are not — or at least should not— be the norm in any school. Of course teachers can by no means plan for every type of announcement or interruption in the day, however teachers should plan ample time each day for frequent review, which not only helps students understand the material, but can be easily skipped or abbreviated when time runs short due to interruptions. The main issue it seems is that interruptions may make it difficult to get students back on task and settled down, this is where routines and high standards come into play. Students are less likely to act out in class if they know the behavior is not tolerated.

Plan ample time each day for frequent review, which not only helps students understand the material, but can be easily skipped or abbreviated when time runs short due to interruptions

Teachers can indeed maximize learning opportunities by expecting the unexpected. Much like Coco Channel’s philosophy of taking off one piece of jewelry or accessory before going out, Posner and Rudnitsky (2006) suggest that elementary school planners should “eliminate some of the instructional ideas on [their] list” before finalizing their scope and sequence (p. 143). Teachers may be unrealistic with what students may be capable of accomplishing during the normal school week.

As teachers we ought to embrace the unexpected question in class, because it shows that our students are thinking and learning; often the unasked question is the one that is truly 'stupid'.

References

Posner, G. and Rudnitsky, A. (2006). Course design: A guide to curriculum development for teachers. Boston, MA: Pearson.

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