Post-it Parking

On my third flying lesson, while in the air, my flight instructor says "I can see you overanalyze and are a perfectionist. Don't worry about everything all at once; work on one thing and add as you are able. To help you out, I am going to cover up some of the instruments." He then proceeded to cover up a handful of the instruments with yellow post-its. "Now listen to the plane. Feel the plane." Thus I refocused my attention to flying and feeling the plane and not trying to keep instrument needles on particular lines. My flying improved.

Sometimes we need to "park" things from an agenda because there is only so much time in the meeting. Likewise we may need to "park" part of a lesson until a later date, to allow for student comprehension of supporting skills or understandings. Where my flight instructor physically covered up distractions to the work I needed to do, in a classroom teachers are confronted with distractions to the lesson that are not so neatly covered up by small squares of sticky yellow paper. Somehow we have to communicate to the student how to "park" the distractions so they can focus on the lesson. Somehow I need to paste a post-it over each child's distraction until he or she is ready for handling it. Yet another skill to teach our students: how to set aside distractions to enable task focus. A post-it metaphor will be coming to my mind now when I observe distractions to learning in my classroom.

1 comment:

Alexander (Sandy) McDonald said...

Great post Sandra!

I came to a similar realization several years ago when I was struggling with dealing with the many things expected of me as an administrator.

After looking at how I spent my time, I realized that I could cut the non-essentials out. Since then, I teach the beginning administrators I mentor the importance of prioritizing! Similar to putting a post-it over some of the instruments, I encourage beginners to identify their priorities. I might use Dan Pink's ' what is your sentence' exercis for this in the future. Once they have their priorities identified, then we talk about the non-essentials and develop strategies for parking them, or handing them off, so that they may focus on their priorities!

Excellent post, thanks!