educator tip student retention

Caution! Rumble Strip Ahead

How many times have you been teaching only to look up and find that your students are sitting there with their eyes half closed, zoning out and not paying any attention to you?  I know, I’ve been there.  The reason for that is most of us have very short attention spans.  After listening to something for a while, we tend to zone out and lose focus.

It has been determined that a student can listen with attention and retention for 8 to 10 minutes.  When I first heard that I panicked. Sadly, it’s true.  The good news is, there is something that we can do about it.  We call it “varying the stimuli.” To do so, you must change the state of the classroom and do something that re-engages the student every 10 minutes.

Do you know what a rumble strip is?  It is the grooved strip on the side of the road that is put in place so if you veer off the road, your car shakes and wakes you up!  We have to do the same thing in our class.  Every 10 minutes incorporate a rumble strip and wake your students up.  This will give you a new 10 minutes of focus and retention.  Every time you use a rumble strip, you can restart the 10-minute clock.

I’m sure your next question is, “how do I incorporate a rumble strip into the classroom?”  There are so many ways to do it.  You are probably using many of them already.  You can tell a story, share a statistic, or introduce a visual aid such as a PowerPoint, handout, mannequin, or video.  You can change the pace, volume, and tone of your voice.  You can move around the classroom so the students’ focus point changes.  You could also incorporate an energizer, a Q&A, group discussion or refer to an article, blog post or YouTube video.  Even an effective pause can be a great rumble strip.

Don’t try to just wing it when adding rumble strips to your lesson.  Plan ahead and prepare your lesson plan by jotting down what you want to use and when you want to add the rumble strip to your content.  This will go a long way in keeping your students engaged and increase their retention of the subject matter.

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Lisha Barnes

Lisha Barnes

Lisha Barnes is a Cosmetology/Barber Instructor with over 25 years of experience. She started out in a small private school working in Admissions, Financial Aid, Education, and School Director. She was a Director of Education for a chain of Private Cosmetology schools. Currently she serves as the Academic Development Manager for Milady where she supports schools and educators around the nation with continuing education, curriculum development and product knowledge. Lisha has served as an Educator for Milady’s Career Institute; NACCAS Commission; Career Educators of America Committee Member; and has authored numerous writing projects for Milady. This industry experience allows her to see the industry from a variety of viewpoints, which helps in sharing information and ideas with educators all around the world.