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How Do I Focus?

How do I focus? 

This is a great question with several entry points and no easy answers. 

I could write about how I stay focused, or not, by getting things done despite a myriad external and internal work demands. 

Or, I could write about how I maintain a focus on what matters

Or, I could write about how I make effective use of my time and stay on task. 

Focusing is a disciplined response to something important or valuable. As a result, focusing is about paying attention and following through, no matter what else is going on at the time. 

Truth #1: I have a hard time focusing on just one thing.  

Truth #2:  It's really hard to focus on more than one thing without compromising something else. Starting a project is easy. However, completing a project is not. Yet, the satisfaction of having done so is what makes it all worthwhile.

Truth #3: I take on way too many projects and responsibilities and tend to lose my focus. I forget what my purpose was for starting the project and then it doesn't seem so important anymore. I have a hard time saying, "No," or "Not now". (Note to self: Learn how to do that.) 

We can practice for the big projects (those that matter and help us grow) by saying "no" to less important things that don't matter and don't help us grow. This way, when it's time to create something or follow through on a commitment, we will know why we took it on. We won't be overwhelmed and become paralyzed. 

For those of us who teach, the day-to-day demands on our time are difficult to manage. It's easy to lose track of what's urgent and what isn't. To lose focus of what's important and meaningful. Everything appears equally important and urgent. 

In fact, this urgency about every new initiative in schools is just plain odd. If everything is equally important, then nothing is important. Isn't that what we tell our students when they are first learning to annotate text? If you underline everything in a text, then nothing is worth focusing on. If every initiative is equally important, then nothing requires our undivided attention. We can make a haphazard attempt at a lot of things and therefore do nothing well.

We lose our way when we lose our focus. And, so do our students. 

At school our focus has to be on our students. 
No one else. 
Nothing else.  

So, back to the question that @MargaretGSimon posed this week on her bloghow do I focus

I focus by slowing down.

I focus by taking stock of what's happening with my students, myself and my family.  

I focus by taking a metaphorical step or two away from a situation to decide what's important...for now. 

I focus one project at a time so that I get really good at starting AND finishing just ONE thing.

I focus by remembering what's important at any given moment.  

That's it. 

What about you? How do you focus?

Cross posted to Reflections on the Teche
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I share some questions I'm grappling with in my classroom. 

No answers. 

Just questions.

(1) What purpose do math stations serve in my classroom?

(2) How can I continue to engage writers without overwhelming them or me?

(3) How can I determine if my tangled readers are learning to be better readers from the books they choose to read?

(4) How can I strike a balance between student choice and making sure my students learn what they need to learn at any given time?

(5) Am I demanding too much from my students?

As I find responses and solutions to these issues, I will post some ideas on my blog.

Any thoughts are more than welcomed!