A couple of weeks ago, I came down with a cold. That raw tickle in the throat hit just at the beginning of a 4-hour class in a large lecture room. By the end of 4 hours, I had very little voice. The next day was another long teaching day: six 90-minute drawing classes in a row. My voice held up, but only just.
It’s just a cold, nothing dire. My voice is slowly improving, but still hoarse. The cold symptoms ran their course. And because I wasn’t running a fever, and I wasn’t actually not feeling terrible, I carried on teaching.
There are lots of reasons I could name for not taking sick time, but that’s not what I want to write about. I have been establishing a ‘no talking while the teacher is talking’ rule in my classes, but with limited speaking volume, I have also had to insist that my students are completely silent, so that my compromised voice does not have to compete with the clatter of pencil cases, the rustle of bags and notebooks.
The result is that I have been given their undivided attention.
Now what do I do?
I have been talking with my students about the nature of undivided attention. How we live in a world of endless distraction and multitasking. There is a place for multitasking. But what happens when you intentionally block out distractions? When you make the choice to focus on the task at hand with your full attention?
I have lots of ebooks in my Kindle about productivity. (I have started most of them, but finished none of them. I wonder what that says about my ability to focus…?) Focusing on one thing at a time is a common theme. Advice includes unplugging your work computer from the internet, putting your phone in flight mode, setting a timer to stick with one task.
Back to my classes. It might be my imagination, but students seem to be making good progress with their drawing skills. They also seem to be able to reflect on their progress a with a little more engagement.