Friday, November 21, 2014

Bored in Class

In a recent #satchat on student engagement, a Twitterfriend shared this image: (Thanks to @Mrreiff for sharing, and for his permission to use the image here!)

Image via @Mrreiff, used with permission.
Check out his book, If Shakespeare Could Tweet

Now, I'm not saying that every lesson by every teacher every day is going to be ultimately engaging for every student.

And I would never argue against the magnetic pull of those glowing screens so close at hand.

But I do think there is truth here.

Or maybe that's just me. Because sometimes I do feel bored. And when I'm bored, I'm much more inclined to be distracted.

And I think that's true of my students as well.

And probably yours too.


What is our role as educators?

To entertain?


To engage?


It can be hard to compete with all the other voices vying for our students' attention, for sure.

But if you notice your students' attention wandering off in the middle of class...what are you going to do about it?

Will you complain that they just aren't paying attention?

Or will you capture their attention?


  1. I've been thinking about this since I saw the image. Can I straddle the fence on this?

    Yes, sometimes it's boredom that gets us. What is happening in front of us does not apply to our world. It means nothing, so we find other things to occupy our minds. In the old days, before computers and smart phones, people graded papers and felt self-righteous about "not wasting time". This translates in class to not just teaching in a sit and get style. Don't rely on 20 year old lesson plans "because they've always worked" (no...they haven't)
    It has to be up to each individual to engage in learning. Not everything we do and sit through can be "entertaining". I think as educators we have to make sure we engage the learner with lessons that relate to the world. But we also have to teach our students how to handle distractions.
    The best lesson I ever received on this was at an inservice. The presenter made sure there were post its on every table. He/she gave everyone five minutes to make a list of all the things they had to do after the inservice or things they were thinking about that might distract them from learning. Once we did that, the inservice went on. Most people stayed engaged.

    Just yesterday, I shut my computer in class and said I needed to get rid of the distraction. Kids laughed, but got the point. We talked about how always having that device in front of them can be a distraction in class. I often ask kids to shut computers and look at me. They know why.

    So, no. We are not their to entertain. But we must create engaging lessons. We need to use student voice and choice when doing so. But we also need to teach and model for kids how to keep themselves engaged in their learning.

    Whew. Should have written my own blog post :)

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Deb! I really appreciate your thoughtful response. And I really agree with you; we are all going to be distracted (bored?) sometimes...and this too is a lesson for students: how do we deal with distraction and boredom and still get meaningful work accomplished? Staring at that glowing screen probably won't do it...

      I love your enthusiasm and passion for engaging your students, Deb. Thanks for letting it show here too!


  2. This picture really had me thinking and considering my role as a teacher. I have spent the past semester learning how to be a teacher, and not many of those classes have stressed engaging the students and keeping them involved in the lesson. I know, as a student myself, that glowing screen is going to be waaaaaay more interesting to students then what I am talking about. I hope I can use technology to keep them engaged, instead of them using technology to pass the time during my class. Thanks for the post!

    Kathryn O.

    1. Kathryn, I'm glad the piece resonated with you. I have colleagues who have outright banned the presence of screens from their classroom; I'm not sure this is a helpful approach. Pragmatically, yes--it curbs the allure of the glowing screen. But practically, does this model what we want students to learn? (Hidden curriculum, anyone?) As in, "technology is for play, we'll put the screens away when it's time to do 'real work.'" That seems inauthentic in 2014...

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!