Recently I’ve found myself suffering more and more from mindflit – a term used by Andrew Fuller to describe the way our brains – and our students’ – flit around from task to stimulus to website to txt like a fruitbat high on mango juice. I just counted 13 tabs open on my Google Chrome; my taskbar has around seven programmes running; my ‘to do’ list just ain’t getting done and I still don’t know what to cook for dinner.
So I got thinking about focus and concentration. We know how much more efficiently we work when we banish distractions and embrace ‘the flow’ – so how do we get our students, masters of multi-digi-tasking, to do this? A few tidbits I’ve been checking out:
- Goldie Hawn – yes, Private Benjamin – is doing some great work through her not-for-profit organisation, The Hawn Foundation. Their flagship MindUPTM programme “provides children with emotional and cognitive tools to help them manage emotions and behaviors, reduce stress, sharpen concentration, and increase empathy and optimism.” If this sounds a bit airy fairy, rest assured that the programme is based on solid neurological and pedagogical research. Watch the clip about MindUPTM that I’ve favourited on our YouTube channel and ask yourself, ‘could my students benefit from learning to be more mindful, calm, and ready to learn?’
- One workshop at our upcoming Challenging Learners Conference I’m very excited about is Graham Watts’ Learning to concentrate, focus and avoid distractions. Graham will talk about how we can use recent knowledge of brain function to help children improve concentration and practice avoiding distractions when learning. I’m hoping to pick up some tips for my own life too ....
- For grown-ups I really like the solid advice from Robyn Pearce, aka The Time Queen. Her blog, website and books have great tips on managing your time, winning the paper war and more. My favourite presentation promises that you will ‘master time in only 90 seconds’ – there are only four elements, so it's well worth a minute and a half of your time I reckon!
- Need a quick fix to bring your fast-paced life back into focus? Download the free app ‘We Breathe’ from LNNZ friend Tony Ryan – it’ll teach you to relax and take longer breaths, and has a fun feature which allows you to tune into millions of other breathers around the world.
If you’re thinking this is all a bit touchy feely, banish that paradigm. 21st century education is more about HOW and WHY we teach, rather than WHAT we teach, so a few tools to bring focus and mindfulness into our classrooms and lives can’t be a bad thing. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you help students to focus on the task in hand. Remember, all comments enter you into the 21CHALLENGE draw for conference places and more.
Right, back to that ‘to do’ list .....