A Clueless Public

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

On the first of April I did a little research into the origin of April Fool’s Day. References to a mid-sixteenth century Flemish poem about fools’ errands and wild goose chases that marked the earliest known April Fool’s Day got me thinking about public expectations about public education. What’s the connection with Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers?

Answer: I often think that some Americans are on a wild goose chase with their assumptions about attainable academic standards at all grade levels in public schools today. But, unlike April Fool’s Day, this isn’t funny business.

I’ve discovered that most people who don’t work inside schools, at least those I’ve questioned about their familiarity with daily life in K – 5 classrooms, have no clue about common student behaviors. They react with disbelief when I describe what students do. (See below for what I’ve encountered when first meeting classes I’ve taught – behaviors that have required creative tools and tricks to turn around.)

If you’re a K – 5 teacher, it’s challenging and sometimes frustrating to be confronted each day by students who have trouble staying focused on basic learning tasks. If you’re a taxpayer (educator or not) it’s a shame to see wasted resources – time, money, lost opportunity for students and teachers due to attention problems that have yet to be adequately addressed and are so shocking to those not in the know.

K – 5 teachers, raise your hand if you’ve seen any of the following during a school day:

  • first thing in the morning – kids stretched out across a table or desk with half open eyes
  • students staring blankly out the window while you read text from a book or instructional resource
  • kids suddenly jumping up from their seats during group lesson time to get a tissue (Does it gall you, as it does me, that school budgets are so tight, teachers often have to beg parents to provide basic classroom supplies?)
  • students sitting with both knees up, feet on the front of their seats blocking access to their desks
  • all of the above

Maybe we should find new ways to invite more of the general public in for eye-opening school visits so they’ll be clued-in instead of clueless.

Remember, you don’t have to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you in two weeks (I’ll be on vacation next week),

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

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