Interruptions

11 Dec

I love this book. It was so enlightening. I’ve always known there was significant difference in Asian education and American education, but I really couldn’t pinpoint what it was, other than the fact that we got beat if we brought home C’s and the craziest looks and lectures if we brought home B’s. And that’s just for me as an Asian AMERICAN. I wasn’t even born in Asia.

However, this book compared the two education systems from a much more objective standpoint. As I was reading it, somewhere towards the middle of the book, it really did seem bleak and hopeless to ever improve our education system here in the States. Much of it due to the fact that we would have to change our entire country’s culture on education or upturn the entire bureaucracy of the education system.

HOWEVER, there were a couple of things that I felt like I could change as a classroom teacher.

  1. Focus on the lessons, not on the teacher/ teaching.
  2. Prevent INTERRUPTIONS in the classroom.

This second aspect is what this post is about. In the book, when a group of educators from Japan had come to visit and observe education in the States, they were alarmed when the PA system went off. They thought there was some sort of emergency like a fire in the building. This was because in Japan, that would be the only reason why instruction time would be interrupted, if everyone was going to DIE if they weren’t interrupted.

Here is what our school’s interruptions look like:

  • summonses delivered from the counselors
  • summonses delivered from the college office
  • summonses delivered from leadership
  • memos delivered for reminders about meetings, student council
  • collection drives for students who passed away, gifts for janitors who are coming back
  • toy drive collection
  • candy gram sales/ deliveries
  • newspaper deliveries, xerox copy deliveries
  • students looking for other students
  • phone calls asking me to send a list of students of blah blah and blah
  • phone calls asking me to clarify things about a memo/note I sent
  • special ed teachers coming by to ask me to sign a piece of paper

Apparently, these are all grounds for interruption. These are not even including all the interruptions from within my class, like my students who are tardy or who have to leave for a game or have to go home.

This also does not include how rude some of these delivery people are! I’ll be in the middle of a sentence and they’ll come right up to my face to hand me the summons, even if I had ignored them the entire time they made their way over to the front. I even made a box by the door that says, “DO NOT INTERRUPT. Drop off all summonses, copies, notices into this box.” They push it aside and walk to me to hand me the school paper, for example.  Some even demand the student be released. Sometimes, the teachers are even worse because, of course, we feel like we have extra rights.

I don’t think I ever noticed just how many interruptions I got in one 95 min class period until I read this book. Then I started counting. It’s almost guaranteed I get one per period, but it goes up to at least up to SIX in ONE period, especially if I have a class of juniors and seniors.

So I put in a complaint. I wasn’t even the one who looked up how to complain because, frankly, I didn’t know I could. Apparently, a bunch of other teachers were starting to run into the same problem. It had just gotten outta control.

And now?

And now I think I’m being rumored on campus as a biatch about this stuff. I’ve been called a brat by a counselor to my face (only half jokingly) and I’ve had another teacher roll their eyes at me. And these are only the ones I know about.

BUT, I don’t care, cuz IT’S WORKING!! Before, all my kids would look up and get totally distracted anytime one of these people would come in. They would talk to the delivery people or ask out loud, “Who is it for? Is it for me?” right in the middle of my lecture.

Now, they completely ignore the person at the door, even if they do look up. Sometimes, they even get annoyed at them for interrupting their lesson! Some of my kids by the door point to the box and stop them at the door now.

So, call me a brat, a bitch, roll your eyes or talk trash, cuz I am loving this! Let’s just call my instruction time, SACRED!!

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2 Responses to “Interruptions”

  1. Gerardo Loera December 14, 2009 at 5:19 am #

    We have been monitoring the interruptions to class and attempting to limit PA interruptions during class time. Interestingly, the counselors are under a lot of pressure to meet with students regularly to discuss Individualized Graduation Plans, IEPs, College Applications etc. Since counselors have a load of nearly 400 students it is not possible to always meet with all students during the first 10 and last 10 minutes of class. In a nut shell, we need to continue tightening up the “unnecessary” interruptions and establish better protocols in this area. Gerardo Loera, Principal.

    • talkingninja December 14, 2009 at 6:15 am #

      haha. I have the coolest principal in the world who comments on teachers blogs and goes to teacher conferences. And MATH conferences at that.

      Anyways, the point of this blog was to say that it’s working! Fewer interruptions and drop-off box is working to help my kids focus and value class time. Every little bit counts. And I’m grateful.

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