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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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Instructional Supervision in the Age of Distraction

Author note: The following is a series of blogs featuring excerpts and concepts from my upcoming book, tentatively titled: The Awakened Supervisor: Embedding Mindfulness-based Practices in Instructional Supervision (Rowman & Littlefield).

Supervising Teachers in the Age of Distraction

We are a severely distracted society. We are constantly bombarded by information as part of a new capital system equipped with new technology. This information overload is not good for us, as we are not designed to receive information in this manner. Of course, teachers have been feeling the effects of this easily-distracted, short-attention- spanned generation. That means educators must find new ways to engage students. It also means they must self-regulate their own attention (for instance, the urge to check text messages while teaching).

Those who prepare and coach teachers--“supervisors”--are also thrust directly into this highly distract-able environment. They must work with teachers (who might be distracted themselves), who must work with distracted students. And of course, supervisors-whether they represent a university teacher program or work as a school principal-are not immune to this information onslaught and attack on attention spans.

With no end in sight, what do those tasked with “teaching teachers” do? In my opinion, these supervisors must seek out new tools that help them focus and remain present and centered, despite the sensory chaos around them. Supervisors must become models of mindful education. In recent years, “mindfulness” has become a buzzword in schools and other settings, though some misunderstandings may exist. Essentially, mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment, of training one’s awareness to be aware of what is happening both internally (thoughts, feelings) and in the outside environment. Research suggests mindfulness practices can improve focus, concentration, and reduce stress. Mindfulness is an ideal antidote to our society’s attention deprivation and the subsequent challenges occurring in classrooms.

Mindful supervision involves practicing mindfulness-methods (such as meditation, breathing, yoga) to become more fully present, more aware and centered, and thus, able to provide a model for aspiring and current teachers. In future posts, I will explore some of the specific ways this can be accomplished.