I have a great cartoon. A student has his hand raised and when the teacher calls on him, he says, Mrs. Osborne, may I be excused? My brain is full.
In our world of ever-higher rigor, be aware of signs of shut down. Often times, behavior is the result of students on overload. Good teaching incorporates a balance of both ritual and novelty. We know that students can only attend for so long (ritual) before they begin to shut down, so it is important to break up direct instruction with movement and opportunities for purposeful socialization (novelty). These breaks afford our students the opportunity to both process and digest the information, which is a critical aspect of learning if our ultimate goal is long-term retention of content.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Madeline Hunter, who said, If you just cover the content, it will remain buried forever. At times, I believe that is what we do for survival. Because there is an expectation to cover so much information, we spend more time on exposure rather than depth. We skim through the content, faster and faster, just making sure it is all covered.
We cant control many aspects of our job. The reality is that expectations are high, schedules are tight, and there will always be more content to teach than there is time to learn. We need to watch, however, for feedback from our students that they need time to breathe, digest, and consolidate the information taught. Without affording them this opportunity, we not only assure information will be forgotten, but likely escalate negative behaviors in the process.