I would just like to know how everybody out there feels about classroom interruptions--and I'm not talking about from the students in the classroom. My classes are interrupted continuously throughout the day by the office calling my room via intercom, by other students sent as messengers, by other teachers, etc. And most of the time it is something that could wait until the end of class time or until the end of the day. I understand that announcements need to be made from time to time and other types of business needs to be taken care of, but for goodness sakes, LET ME TEACH!! There have been times that a single class has been interrupted up to ten times. I once had co-worker send a student to my room with a note wanting to know what I thought about the humorous e-mail she had sent simply because I had not responded. Can you believe it?!? I'm sorry, I just needed to get it all out...
In my school we have recently had a problem with some of the paraprofessionals calling to talk to the full time para I have in my room. She is there to work with the special needs child I have. They call about stuff like what time is the other taking her lunch, or do they want to switch kids now or later. Or where should they go for coffee on Saturday morning. Unbelievable! I wish I could put my phone on do not disturb!
most people at my school know this and avoid calling me. (i don't mind the occasional phone call if it is truly warranted.)
the time the librarian got on the intercom to the whole school to ask who had a certain video just about killed me--use email, lady!
one way i've tried to take control of a small part of interruptions is by letting parents know at Parent Night that i need them to send a note telling me when they need Little Darling at the office for appointments (NOT what time the appointment is!). that way they'll be on time for the appt. because i'll have the kid ready and the office won't interrupt our lesson to call down to say that Little Darling's mommy is here.
perhaps you could bring it up at a staff meeting? (depends on climate of your school and your administrator, i imagine.)
Long ago, before any technology, the secretary or principal would have had to come in person to tell you those things. I bet that rarely happened. I love technology, but it really does interfere with teaching sometimes, esp. when people who are not organized or efficient have to constantly do things at the last minute.
Just like with cell phones, there is a down side to having everyone immediately at your fingertips.
although I can't say I get as many as it sounds like most of you get. I did have one remedial teacher who was constantly sending kids down for make-up work or back work or extra credit work. (Translation - that teacher didn't have any plans for the day and was expecting me to fill the time). I finally just started telling the students to let the teacher know I was busy teaching a lesson and he could get that information during my free period or after school. It took two or three times responding that way, but finally....No more middle-of-the-class interruptions from that teacher.
Creeping legitimacy has turned the classroom into a "Seinfeld" sitcom, with constant "commercials" for fund raisers, guidance talks, principal messages, the intercom, etc. On top of that, high school students bring cell phones, gameboys and other expensive technology to play with between or during classes. NY City has banned these electronics in public schools creating a mega battle with teens. One enterprising store owner was holding the stuff all day for a dollar an item. He was making $200 a day! Teens are hiding their phones in gardens, hedges, ledges during the day. If I were there, I'd take a walk, find the electronics and sell it. Teens are stopped at the high school door where they have to hand over electronics.
Thanks for the input, everybody! TIA, I did think about saying something at a staff meeting, but I'm not sure how well the subject would be received since many of the culprits would be sitting in the room. I may just talk to the principal--she's pretty good about listening to our concerns. And doctafill, I agree that cell phones, etc. are definitely an interruption, and would get me started on a whole other story!!
I can't believe a coworker had time to write a note in the middle of teaching! We honestly rarely get announcements from the office - except when a student is checking-out. They're wonderful about that. They make morning and afternoon announcements - that's it. I do, however, get interruptions from other teachers, but most of them look in my classroom first. If they see I'm teaching they'll wait unless it's urgent (rarely). I can't imagine being interrupted as much as you are - I'd completely lose my train of thought!
I too hate interruptions and I have retrained most people that come to my room by ignoring them. I continue to teach and when I get to the point where the students are sharing at their tables I ask if I can help them. By then most have already left the room. It doesn't take long for them to stop coming in. My principal will leave me a note and quietly leave the room. If she can respect my teaching everyone can. We do have a do not disturb button on our phones and I use it.
We don't have intercoms, but phones. And there have been days when my phone will ring 5 or more times in a class period. It's usually the last period of the day when parents check their children out 30 or 40 minutes early - like what I'm teaching isn't important. Anyways, the phone is a distance from where I stand when I teach, so the rule is that the students closest to the phone answers it. (Yes, there is sometimes a stampede or "discussion" over who's the closest to the phone) That way, they can do all the listening, and just quickly relay the message "Sarah's checking out". I nod and continue teaching. Rarely am I called to the phone to have to talk to someone, and usually they are very apologetic about the interruption.
One of our assistant principals addressed this very thing recently. She said that she sat down to do an observation on a teacher and her class when lo and behold! The phone rang. Not once, but twice. It was other teachers wanting to speak with the teacher about something. Her room was interrupted by some children serving as messengers for some purpose. The AP thought this was very upsetting, considering that the teacher was in the midst of teaching when all of this occurred. She told us all that we should avoid interrupting instruction during classes. She asked us to think about what we were doing in terms of interruptions and if it was really necessary at that particular moment.
Personally, I find it all annoying, and it has happened to me, too. I'm teaching and the phone rings. Is Mrs. W there? No. Do you know where she is right now? No, but she will definitely be back by 11:30. Two students enter the classroom. Both are carrying books. Where can we set them? I don't know. Let me think about that. Set them there until the classroom teacher comes back. Phone rings. Hey can you ask Mrs. W. if she has the video... This has how my day can sound. Unfortunately, this is all too often my classtime, too. I know I try to avoid interrupting teachers' classes whenever I can.
I can't stand them either. One time during an observation, the janitor came in the middle of my room set up a ladder and proceded to change a light. The kids who were at their desks had to move out of his way. The just stared at him and weren't working. Then a specialist came in to ask for a student so she could talk to her. A teacher came in to borrow a math manipulative from my closet. Then the phone rang. By the way, I didn't answer it. When I am busy I don't answer the phone. I am working. I also don't answer the door. People just walk right in! I don't have a lock or I would keep it locked and have them knock and wait til I had a moment to see what they wanted. I've done this in the past and it helped greatly. The administration and/or secretaries need to help put a stop to the end of the day interruptions esp. One of my girls always leaves early so her mom can beat the traffic outside. She has missed lessons, quizzes and tests. I usually try to draw from my treasure box, hand out earned treats etc. at the end of the day. She and others miss those too. If they get called to the office for early dismissal, I do not stop what I was doing to give them their work. They need to wait until I have time. I don't think an inconsiderate parent has a right to have me stop a lesson for everyone else and hurry them to the office. Can you image it the other way around? For example, I need to call for an appointment. I get on the phone and just let the class sit and wait for me to be done. Its just as bad. I usually ignore student messengers and tell them not now I'm busy. They go away. It can really get out of hand unless you let people know you don't like it. I have a lot of ADHD type kids. They have trouble enough trying to stay on task. They don't need this and I have trouble getting back on track too.
I would tell the assistant you have that s(he) is not to use the phone for personal matters during class and to make arrangements ahead of time. When I have assistants, I am the one who evaluates them. I would report them to administration if it continued.
okay, i already posted about how i hate interruptions....but as i read the other posts, a couple things came to mind:
a couple years ago, in my district, at a junior high, a man came to a classroom and had a girl come out with him--a quick thinking teacher smelled something funny and prevented a kidnapping! i try to remember this when i am teaching and "ignoring" someone standing at my door until i get to a good stopping point...it's important to sneak a peek because it could be a wacko standing there!
also, in my district we have several safety drills--one of them is the Phone Tree--where we send a message around the school quickly (without the intercom). i wouldn't ignore a phone call because it could be something like this. (i do admit to taking my time crossing the room to get to the phone.....and i always whisper "hello?" to make it evident that i don't want to disturb my students.)