When you’re teaching students, especially at a small group, your surroundings play a big role in how your message is received by students. Do your best to eliminate as many distractions as you can. Obviously cell phones are the number one distraction; we gather those at the beginning of our group and give them back as they leave. I learned early on to make sure they shut them off, or put some kind of cushion in the bottom of the box you keep them in so you don’t hear them vibrating all night long when students get text messages.
If your meeting in a home, make sure that TV’s and radios are off, also make sure you have adequate lighting in the room. Not so much that your students can tan under the lights, but also make sure the lights are not so low that students have trouble keeping awake. Make it a comfortable environment, but not too comfortable.
Where you sit plays a big role also. Sit at the same level as the students, if they are on the floor then you need to be on the floor too. If they are in chairs, try not to be sitting in a higher chair where you are looking down on them, that sends the wrong subliminal message to them. I try to remember to stay at eye level with my students.
One thing I do when I think students are tired and fighting to stay in touch with the message is to call on them for input during the message. That helps keep their attention span with you. If I get the feeling students are not tracking with my lesson, I ask a lot of questions like, “What do you think about that?” “Would you do that?” Anything that will require more than a yes or no answer. Always remember that “awkward silence” is sometimes your friend, don’t fight it.
One of my rules is that I don’t allow “cross talk”. Only one person talks at a time, if you want to have a conversation with your friend next to you then you need to leave the room. I want them to have respect for each other when they are talking.
Question: How do you fight distractions?