The Problem with Fidget Spinners . . .

The Problem with Fidget Spinners . . .¬†is not the distractions. ¬†It’s not the noise. ¬†It’s not even the obsessive collecting. ¬†It ain’t the disruptions to classmates. ¬†It’s not the who’s-got-the-best-spinner drama either. ¬†It’s definitely not that they annoy some teachers. ¬†And it’s not that they may cost parents a lot of money.

It’s that kids need them. ¬†It’s that our youth – and our society in general – see school as an experience that is so mind-numbingly, torturously boring that we assume that kids need something to fidget with during it. ¬†It’s that learning, in many classrooms, is seen as a passive behavior and that students need something active to do with their hands while it happens.

Make learning experiences that make your students want to put their spinners away.

“Kids These Days . . . “

Adults these days start sentences with¬†“Kids these days . . . “ way too often. ¬†And here’s the thing that I want to point out about that phrase:

Any sentence starting with “Kids these days” is not an excuse. ¬†It is an observation (it’s also a loosey-goosey generalization, but we’ll save that for another post). ¬†However, adults often use it as an excuse.

So? ¬†Isn’t “excuse vs. observation” just syntax? ¬†Well, you may think it is¬†until you see an educator who’s struggling to lead his/her students to mastery shrug their shoulders and say something like “Kids these days want to play on their phones and video games instead of studying.”

Why is it important to draw the line in the sand between excuse and observation on this statement?

Excuse – “Sure, my students aren’t achieving mastery, but it’s not my fault – kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study.”

Observation – “Kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study . . . ”

What’s up with the “.¬†. .” in that observation?

Any good educator uses observations (a.k.a., informal formative assessments) to make decisions about how to best lead their students to deeper learning. ¬†It’s what you put after the dot dot dot that is what makes a good teacher a great teacher.

Kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study . . . so I’ll try using gamification in my course.

Kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study . . . so I’ll start integrating more technology into my teaching.

Kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study . . . so I’ll look for an app that they can interact with on their mobile devices to continue their learning.

Kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study . . . so I’ll learn about the apps, games and sites that they’re using to see what I can learn to support my instruction.”

The most important thing about this . . . 

If you’ve made it this far in this post, and I hope you have, then you get to hear what I consider to be the most important thing about “kids these days”:

We are teachers these days.
It is our responsibility to teach kids these days.
We can’t change them, nor should we want to.
Kids from “back in my¬†day” are gone.
Learn to understand kids these days.
Strive to inspire kids these days.