Have you ever found yourself sitting in a class listening to a presentation and then suddenly catch yourself nodding off, daydreaming, becoming that warm body in the chair, and not absorbing the information? I know I’m guilty of this and I like to consider myself the ideal student. I have news for you, our students are no different, they struggle to pay attention and absorb the knowledge that you present to them on a daily basis.
Research shows us that the learning brain can only pay attention for about 20 minutes and it can only focus with interest and understanding for 8 minutes. The reality is, our students’ ability to focus fades over time unless we take specific action to keep them engaged. We need to do something to wake up our students and grab their attention. We need to change what we are doing because if change doesn’t occur, the mind wanders. We need to vary the stimuli, or as I like to call it, we need to hit the “reset button.”
When I’m teaching, I typically push the “reset button” about every 10 minutes. I’m not implying you need to do something drastic and stop presenting. You can vary the stimuli with quick reset activities that will instantly engage your students without taking you off course from your lesson.
The next time you need to hit the “reset button” and get your students’ attention, try one of these helpful tips.
Stop Talking – a few second of silence can provide students a chance to think without interruption. Our minds our constantly active, so the benefit of silence allows us time to process.
Q&A – pose a question relating to your topic. Have students either answer directly or work in pairs to formulate the answer.
Reflection Time – allow your students to process the information you have just presented. Have them either write down three things they learned or have them share an “aha” moment with a partner.
Change Something – vary the type of visual aid you’re using or change your position in the classroom.
The trick is not to use the same “reset” activity every time. You need to vary the stimuli even within the various reset activities.
Patti Wanamaker brings 21 years of experience to the Milady team, where she currently serves as an Academic Training Specialist. Her intimate understanding of the salon, school, and beauty industry comes from 18 years of hands-on experience as a multi-faceted training specialist, including 8 years of salon and spa ownership of 3 salons with annual sales of $5 million. Her experience in all 3 areas of our industry allows her to think outside the box and develop innovative trainings that not only inspire, but empower educators/trainers to create the most effective learning environments for their students.