I recently got in a fender bender in my car, which I could blame on my dog for being so cute in the back seat, but really, it was all my fault. I was distracted by said dog, and just rolled right into the lady in front of me. She was really nice, but she kept saying, “Why did you do that?” and “Why weren’t you paying attention?” I kept apologizing, but after the 10th time she asked my why I wasn’t paying attention, I whined, “I ran into you because it was an accident! That is why it is called an accident and not an on-purpose!”
In general, I have excellent focus. If you reviewed my school records, it would not say what I see over and over as a school psychologist reviewing records: “Rebecca has potential when she pays attention.”* But this week, I guess I was literally driven to distraction. I felt bad enough for hitting this woman, and then even worse when she kept blaming me for my lack of focus. Not. Helpful.
I couldn’t help but think of my students with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) who are constantly being told they need to pay attention. I wonder if that is also not helpful. I wonder if there is a cumulative effect of discouragement when every time someone says your name it is to tell you to pay attention, focus, or get “on task.” There are certainly times when all students need reminders, but if you have ADD, I bet you get them all the time. I will make a point this week to use my springing social skills* in the classroom by ascending upon children who are focused this week, and praise them.
*Preschool teachers did note that, “Rebecca would like others to think she is shy, but she really likes to socialize.” What does that mean? I spring my extroversion on unsuspecting peers? I have this image of shy 5 year old me hiding behind the bookshelf in the reading corner and then jumping out at a small group of kids screaming, “HA! Play with me!”