Research shows that meetings and interruptions have a negative effect on our well being that may “…contribute to burnout, anxiety, depression and other negative emotions“. Combine meetings with interruptions from students, parents, other teachers, and principals, and you have a recipe for grouchy teachers! A person takes 8-10 minutes to get back into a creative state following one interruption. Here are some ideas I had to help you minimize or eliminate interruptions:
- Students – Lay down rules on when a student is allowed to ask questions or contribute to a discussion. Create procedures for the student to follow to request help or use the bathroom. One idea to ask for help is to use a simple paper cup. If the cup is on the student’s desk or computer, he would like a moment of your time at your earliest convenience.
- Parents – Notify parents when you are available, and distribute your e-mail address. Let them know they are free to e-mail you at any time. Keep the lines of communication open, but tell them that you are not available to take a call during the day. Sign up for a free Google voice account and give that number out to parents.
- Teachers – A simple thing such as “If the door is closed, email me” can work wonders.
- Office – Notify the office that you check e-mail twice a day, and that it is your preferred method of communication. Along the same lines, be sure to check your e-mail twice a day! Follow the idea for teachers above, and close the door when possible.
- General Ideas – The best line of defense is a good offense. Let others know what interruptions are acceptable to you. You have e-mail, use it to eliminate as many interruptions as you can.
The key is to put you in control of your interruptions, and let you take care of them when you have time. Everything above is workable (except for emergencies).