Students Aren’t the Only Ones who get Distracted Working at Home
February 2, 2021
February 2, 2021
By Michael McCabe
During COVID, many students are learning remotely, usually at home. As a result, some of you have not been completing your assignments because you’ve been distracted there. (Of course, you’re never distracted at school. Right?) I thought it might be helpful to show you that sometimes teachers get distracted as well. One Saturday in November, it happened to me. This is my story of that day. (All times are approximate.)
I got out of bed at 7:30 (AM, of course) and before even getting dressed went to my bedroom “office,” from where I currently teach my high school math classes, and began preparing a geometry lesson for our school’s team. I had to have it ready by our team meeting on Monday, and I’d begun preparation the night before, spending about 15 minutes before checking the news on my phone. Then, after 45 minutes with that distraction, I realized it was midnight, so I went to bed.
After 15 minutes Saturday morning, I again looked at the news on my phone and saw a Black Friday ad from Amazon, so I scrolled through it, glancing at the 25 products on sale. Gosh darn it, two of them, products I had gotten along without for my 72 years, were calling to me. So I got dressed, went downstairs to my home computer, logged onto Amazon (being careful to log onto smile.amazon.com so the charity of my choice could receive a small donation from Amazon as a result of my purchase), examined the two items that were calling to me, and purchased them for $54.
I had brought my phone with me and in the news feed noticed an article bemoaning the fact that we were still using the Electoral College to elect our Presidents. So, being a history buff and a fan of the Electoral College, I looked up a few articles about our Presidential election process, read up on the whys and why nots of the Electoral College, and began taking notes in a new document. After a while, I came to a natural stopping point, so I then had breakfast, gave our cat some attention (I already had fed her breakfast about 6:30), and took out the trash.
After returning to my bedroom and spending some “personal care” time, I sat back down to continue preparing my geometry lesson. It was 10:30. I had been away from my lesson prep for 2 1/2 hours.
For an hour, I worked diligently on the lesson. Then I left, as I had to go to the post office, grocery store and, most importantly, the pet store, as our cat had run out of one of the two different foods she eats each day. After the pet store and post office, I got to the grocery store and realized I didn’t have my list, so back home I drove. I found the list, which made me happy because that meant I hadn’t lost it. I added some items to it and went back to the grocery store. I returned, put away the groceries, had lunch, did a little on my home computer, then went upstairs to continue with the lesson prep. It was 3:30.
After those distractions I got right to work on my lesson prep, right? Not exactly. I had student emails to attend to, and the day before I’d given a test to one of my classes so I thought the students would appreciate my grading their tests sooner rather than later. With a 10-minute break in the middle, all this—including an email to two students in the class but who did not take the test, in which I asked why they did not take it—took until 6:00.
Now, finally, it’s time to get back to my lesson prep, right? Again, not exactly, because now it’s time for dinner for me and my 12th-grade grandson and, most importantly, for our cat Olivia. Oh, darn. Another distraction.
After dinner and a movie at home, it was 10:15 PM and time to finish the lesson. So, I put away my phone and focused on the work I needed to do. At 12:30, I was done. I then closed my laptop, brushed my teeth, and went to bed.
We teachers know that sometimes students are distracted. We get distracted, too. This was a day when I was distracted for a great deal of time from my principal task, but the important lesson I ask that you take away from my experience is that I did finally finish the geometry lesson for my teammates.
From this, please keep in mind two points as you grow into adulthood. First, distractions are not necessarily “bad.” So, sometimes just “go with” them, but watch the time so you’re not distracted for too long. Second, keep returning to the task you must accomplish, time and again, until you complete it. Persistence in accomplishing small things leads to accomplishing important things.
My closing wish for each of you is to stay safe so that, as the future continuously becomes the present, each of you will accomplish much in your life—despite those pesky distractions.
McCabe, EdD, a member of the Loudoun Education Association, teaches geometry and functions at Park View High School.