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Help for students losing focus


From: kcaraway (kcaraway_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu May 08 2003 - 21:49:56 PDT

I have a number of students on the brink of tears this time of year. They
have so many things to worry about. Seems it's hard for them to remember
they are in art class when their math test is next hour and they didn't
finish their Spanish final project.

What to do? They want to come to class and socialize, but I really believe
they need to be using most of the little tiny itty bitty short period to do
their artwork. I believe the quiet, introspective "in the flow" time would
help them through it all, but only if they want to do it, and it takes only
one or two to wreck it for all. I want them to value their time and to look
forward to doing art. Some say they do the work at home and shouldn't have
to work in class too, and get huffy when I try to explain the benefits of
learning to get truly focused when they want to.

Also, it's that time of year when they seem to be interested in nothing else
except --well, you know -- looking around for someone else to blame for not
getting everything done on time like they had hoped to do at the beginning
of the year! (I'm thinking of putting a big target on my smock!)

I wish I had compiled some inspiring words of wisdom to use at such times,
and hope to do so this summer, maybe posting something new every few days.
Meanwhile, anybody got any great motivational art quotes that would help
them realize that their art time is valuable? (Did I mention the class
period isn't very long??)

Or perhaps you have ways to allow them to switch from doing focused artwork
and then allowing them time to visit and exchange ideas, without forgetting
how to do focused work again? So far the only thing I have found that helps
is assigned seats, and that saying "get in the flow" works better than "be
quiet and get back to work".

I would be curious to know how many use assigned seating as a general rule,
and not only for those who get out of hand with talking. I'm thinking of
starting off the year assigning them next year, and allowing those who show
extra good habits to earn the privilege, and keep it until they show they
can't handle being near their buddies.

I want to be positive, without resorting to blatant bribery. What works for
you? It's getting harder every year.

Karla Caraway