One of the biggest concerns I’ve heard from teachers lately is how they are feeling pulled in different directions at once. Splinched – that’s what Harry Potter fans would call it – or split in two. Truth be told, I think teachers are feeling more like horcruxes, with their attention having to be divided about seven different ways. It’s a sad, but accurate description of what teaching has been like during the pandemic.
It’s hard to concentrate on multiple tasks. It can be overwhelming, as the brain must make decisions about what will be prioritized and receive attention. If we try to attend to it all, we end up with little success and exponential frustration. Welcome to the world of students with behavioral challenges – so many expectations on which to focus, so little time, energy, or ability to divide the attention.
When trying to shape behaviors, (ours or our students’) focus on one thing at a time – and preferably the thing that is the easiest to change. By choosing an attainable goal, we increase the likelihood of success, and thus, encouragement to keep trying. It’s not easy when there are multiple issues on which to focus, but if our goal is behavior change, “Just One” needs to be the mantra. Otherwise, we are left feeling behaviorally splinched, which I’m certain can’t be a good thing.