Bam! Distracted!

As I approach the end of the semester, I feel myself becoming overwhelmed with all the things we have due. As the sun comes out and the warmth surrounds us, it is so difficult to stay focused and push through. Today in McCoy’s class, we briefly discussed all the outside forces that can distract us and cause us to procrastinate. I thought this was interesting because distractions and disturbances surrounded us throughout the class, and I was paying careful attention to them.
Today’s class, in particular, was a beautiful day; the moment I walked out my door I wanted to get my hammock, set it up on the green, and relax all day. However, I continued to walk to class and be responsible, soaking up the sun as much as I possibly can. The breeze was perfect, but the American Flag outside of our window in Welles didn’t think so! We opened the windows to let in some fresh air, but that lets in many more outside factors. The metal of the flag banging against the pole for one was a huge distraction, drowning out all our voices. Some natural distractions managed to seep in as well (the only reason I was paying attention to this was that I was interested to see all the factors that can cause us as students to lose focus- future teacher here!). Birds chirping, students playing on the green, accepted students cheering and celebrating, and the beaming sunlight flooded our room, daring someone to pay attention to it instead of what we were reading (The American Play, for those of you who let these disturbances win-it happens to the best of us). These natural distractions threatened us, but there were also manmade disturbances that can affect us. For instance, one student pushed their iced coffee off the table, and I instantly started to daydream about a Venti Strawberry Acai from Starbucks. Bam! Distracted! Another student got up too fast from their desk and their laptop fell off their desks, causing me to think about the time I dropped my Mac and the process it took for me to get it fixed, feeling pity for the student. Bam! Distracted!
It’s a constant struggle for students to choose what is more important to place our attention on…sometimes we don’t even have a choice. Another form of disturbance was something that we actually created on purpose, which I thought was very interesting considering what I was analyzing throughout the class. As we were reading The American Play, we each took a turn reading a paragraph while another student simultaneously and sporadically read something in the margins on the left side column. This causes the audience to choose what they prefer to focus on, the student reading the paragraphs or the student “interrupting” and reading something else, but still relevant. Often, I find myself focusing on neither one because I can’t choose whose voice to pay attention to and I allow the voices to blend together instead. Although we have been using this technique for a while, I still can’t figure out the purpose of having these voices overlap. For me at least, it causes me to lose focus and become frustrated, just like any other interruption or disturbance we mentioned before. However, this disturbance is intentional, but why do we do it? What is the purpose of this technique?
The most important thing to note is how seamless McCoy was able to shut down any distraction that could have potentially threatened our class; for all of us who are planning on becoming teachers, take notice to how McCoy juggles (and balances) all of these responsibilities, from lecturing us to keeping us engaged. When she saw how we became distracted with the noise from outside, we were told to battle through and talk louder, which I am happy to say we all battled through. When the coffee fell off the table, McCoy told us to keep reading and she cleaned it up swiftly. When she felt the energy was low, we got out of our seats and engaged in a phonics activity of “thee” and “thuh”- “push it”. Unfortunately, that led to the fall of the laptop. Everything she does, along with most educators, is to keep the class focused despite the distractions and interruptions which are inevitable. I know as a future teacher that it is a difficult task to keep 20+ kids engaged and focused. It’s impossible to predict all interruptions and all disturbances, but it’s not impossible to beat these distractions and push through until it’s time to put your mind to rest for the warm weather…which is soon!
Ps: if you are interested in what I referred to about “thee” and “thuh”, check out Andrew Weber’s post “More on Thee/ The (or THUH), and a Cross-Cultural Look”.

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