Wednesday, May 19

What to do about fidgeting?

I live in the real world.  Although I think of my classroom as a magical place where children are valued and made to feel their voices matter, I need to make sure I prepare them for the world outside my four walls.  This is not to say that I am usurping the role of parents, but there are certain areas that parents occasionally over-look. 

Most parents do not address fidgeting.  I do… usually on a daily basis.

As many of you have seen from reading my blog, I don’t care about labels.  I look at each child individually.  I also recognize that sometimes, everyone needs to fidget.

So what do I do?   Here are some of my tricks.  (The goal is self-awareness.)

The Tapper:  This is the sound of the pencil hitting the desk in rapid staccato - incessantly.  Most times, the student doesn't know he or she is tapping.  I show them how to roll it instead. If that proves to be too noisy, I show them how to roll it in their hands.

The Knee/Leg Bouncer - I show the student what it looks like and show them how to transfer the energy to their toes and wiggle them.  It takes some practice and sometimes it manifests as a foot tap. Sometimes I suggest holding their hands together and squeezing.  I tell them about the transference of energy.

The DropperThis is the student who cannot keep anything on his desk.  Easy fix.  Put everything on a chair next to him.  We use a minimalist approach.

The Jumping Jack - This is the student who seems to always need to get something or go somewhere.  (See my last blog: Do Not Sit Still in My Classroom) Sometimes empowering a student with choices removes the desire to wander aimlessly. 

The Total Body Fidget - Greatest invention ever – stress balls.  This is for students whose bodies seem to move whether they want it to or not.  I only use this as an extreme measure.  It must be used carefully because the desire to have one can act as a catalyst for others to start fidgeting. 

I’d like to think that my teaching is so entertaining and riveting that my students would sit spellbound and motionless.  However, as a life-long “fidgeter” with more energy than most teachers knew what to do with when I was a student, I empathize with anyone who is forced to sit without motion. 

Everyone needs to fidget sometimes.  The goal is to find a way to do it without intruding on the  concentration/focus of others.


Alan Stange said...

I like the way you teach them to redirect their energy or be unobtrusive. I have many fidgeters in class. The VoiceThread demonstrates some of the ways we deal with it. One huge thing is to let the poor guys move around. I have the one stand-up table at the back that is almost always occupied. There are bands on the desks, rolling chairs, balls, and more. I no longer buy into the argument that kids should learn to sit still for extended periods of time. They simply need to move. If you watch me in a meeting, my hands are busy with something.

Nancy Hniedziejko (Nancy Ehrlich) said...

Thank you, Alan for commenting. I really appreciate the support. I've been accused by my peers of setting my students up for failure because of the non traditional way in which I manage my classroom. Nice to know others get it! As for you voicethread... amazing. I love it. One of my goals for the summer is to learn and start using them. Thanks again!

pamlovesbooks said...

Nancy i totally i agree with you. i have YET to find a perm job but when i was doing my student teaching (1st grade) i know that the problem is not the kids, its the system. some kids just need to move. sure let them stand! let them chew gum if they need to! let them work at an easel if they cant sit still. find a way to make the child successful!

Sarah said...

I definitely have a few tappers in my class--I like the way that you redirect them!