[Narrator] Ms. Pat Watsky wants her students to be independent learners, diligent and focused. It will help them so much.
But some kids, when she tries to get them on task, work for a minute, and then they go right back off task.
Is there a way to make sure that they stay on task?
Pat decides to ask her mentor, Mr. Rios.
“You’ve got that look again, Pat. Is your class all right?” Asked Mr. Rios.
Ms. Pat replied, “Not really. How do you get the kids to stay on task? I can get them working, but if I walk away for one minute, they stop. If they can learn to keep going on their own, they’ll be great students.”
“Right. So you already know to begin with the influence approach?” Mr. Rios inquired.
“Yeah, to the side, eyes on work, very quiet voice,” Ms. Pat confirmed.
Mr. Rios replied, “Just add one more technique. Repeat after me. Off, neutral, on.”
“Off, neutral, on? What does that mean?” Asked Ms. Pat.
Mr. Rios explains, “Students don’t go from off to on, kind of like your car. They go into neutral first, then to on. Don’t let them fool you. Working for a few seconds is not the same as really being on task.
Here’s how to use this nonverbal cue in the classroom
Don’t leave students who go off task. Approach them from the side and stay with them. Be present by leaning in, your eyes on the work, to get them to neutral. Do not assume kids will stay on task. Sway back when they go on, but remain by their side.
If a kid stops working and goes to neutral, lean in again.
Meanwhile, don’t ignore the rest of the room. Continually look around the class to encourage the other kids.
Repeat until you know that they will stay on task. Slowly leave.
Once kids are really focused, you won’t have to run around so much to herd the ones who slip off task again and again.”
Ms. Pat responded, “Won’t it seem like I’m micromanaging them?”
“Well, if you only lean in when they’re off or neutral, it won’t. Just focus on the work, using your influence approach.
The best part is kids will learn to stay on task longer, even when no one is watching. That’s the goal here, to help your kids become independent.”