During this period of sequestration, those of us lucky to have jobs and kids are facing more interruptions to our work than ever before, right when we most need to be able to concentrate. This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course; for example, this breezy article on the topic dates from 2015.
What is new is the acuteness of the problem, and the unexpectedly strong emotions it can raise. A friend just offhandedly told me “I’m still trying to get to the bottom of why it makes me angry.” And I thought, Wait. I know this one.
If you’re in this boat, I’d like to suggest the possibility that it’s because the locus of control for your own thoughts belongs with you, as opposed to being a resource that is implicitly shared with everyone moving through your environment. In other words, you might be angry because other people are exerting control over your own thought process — in effect, over the proper function of your own mind and experience. It’s a violation of something extremely personal.
We are all being called on to do more than we are used to.
- Schools are suddenly closed, and they are scrambling to figure out distance learning.
- Parents are figuring out how to juggle their own work and their kids’ education (to say nothing of their own self-care).
- Some students are trying to keep up with the new work. Some are struggling to make meaning from the new assignments. Almost no one yet knows how much they are learning.
For tutors, the job has always been understanding the student, and clearing away barriers to learning. It’s just that now, the barriers come in many more varieties besides just misunderstanding the material. Now students have more challenges:
- Teachers struggling with new tools
- Students’ need to manage their time more than they feel ready for
- Students trouble owning their own learning in the face of reduced testing and other checkins
For all of us, the challenge is figuring things out fast, and changing things fast as we figure out what works.
That’s how tutors can step up, because: the fastest learning team is a motivated student and an expert.