Avoidance – Unfortunately, it is a coping strategy I use from time to time – for survival. Take, for example, my garage. We have about fifteen years of clutter that has built up in there since we moved into this house. I twitch when I walk through the garage because the shear amount of stuff overwhelms me. Purging, cleaning, and organizing will be a spring break task for sure – but until that time, avoidance will have to be my coping strategy. I will also refuse to put one more thing in that garage until after it has been cleaned.
I’m thinking students can relate. Our brains can only hold so much information, and by this time in the year students are on overload, just as we are. Their “storage units” are pretty full. So, might it be natural for them to procrastinate, cut up, and divert attention avoiding academic tasks? Seems like a reasonable coping strategy to me.
From what I can tell teachers are seeing a great deal of “overload behaviors” at this point in the school year. So, my suggestion is to watch timing. Rather than introducing new information right now, maybe the best strategy is to review and help students organize the information they have already been taught, so that after a small break they too will be refreshed and have more room for the new content we invariably have to teach them.