When I started out as a teacher, one of my more experienced colleagues told me that to be a good teacher all you have to do is be kind and consistent. The years since has only convinced me of her wisdom, but I think if she was still teaching today she might have added a third thing, be present.
Up until about five years ago, when you were at school, you were in a bubble. Unless there was death in the family, all news could, and would, wait until the end of the day. I can still remember during the 1992 Cricket World Cup; our principal would make all call announcements to keep us up to date with the score. It was almost as if the classroom was a sacrosanct space where everything paled before learning for both teacher and learner.
The value of a present teacher.
Model good behaviour
Adults and teachers specifically are very good at pointing out learner’s bad habits. But what we seldom think about is the bad habits that we model. We all know the old saying,
Do as I say not as I do.
We might complain about the notifications on learner’s tablets distracting them, or learners being busy with other things while they should be listening or working. But so often we are distracted by an email that just has to be answered or you quickly have a look what is happening on Twitter, instead of walking around answering questions, pointing out misconceptions and interacting with your learners.
We can tell learners time and again that multitasking is not effective. Until we stop doing it ourselves they will not believe us.
Make your classroom sacrosanct again.
Give it a try. Both you and your learners will thank me.