With so few instructional minutes in a class period, teachers are tasked with keeping students focused during class by limiting classroom distractions. Classroom distractions come in various forms, some most distracting to fellow students and some most distracting to the teacher. Regardless of who is most affected by these classroom distractions, it is important to identify what is distracting students so that you can find an effective solution.

1. Personal devices

Devices like cell phones, hand-held games, and even school-issued laptops are some of the biggest classroom distractions. Students can be easily distracted by a notification or message, taking them away from the lesson and focusing on texting a friend back or reaching that next level in their favorite game. This can be distracting for teachers as lack of eye contact from students and noises from these devices takes teachers’ attention away from what they are teaching.

2. Unnecessary talking

In any setting, unnecessary talking is a distraction for anyone, but this is especially distracting in the classroom. When students talk while the teacher is leading a lesson, their focus gets taken away from what they are teaching as well as distracts other students from being able to pay attention to the lesson. On the other hand, when students talk unnecessarily during times when the class needs to be quite, it disrupts what students are doing and takes focus away from the task at hand.

3. Eating food or chewing gum

Students typically shouldn’t eat during class, but if for whatever reason they do, it can be a huge distraction for many reasons. When students eat during class it can bring unnecessary sounds and smells into the room that can be unsettling for both students and teachers. Food also comes with the risk of a mess and leftover trash. Cleaning up these messes or throwing away trash from food during class can be an added distraction from the lesson at hand.

4. Tardiness

Teachers always ask that students not be tardy so that they don’t miss out on valuable material covered during class. However, unexpected things like traffic on the way to school, talking to a teacher after their prior class, or extracurricular activities can occur which can make students occasionally tardy. Not only does this cause students to miss material, but walking into class late is a classroom distraction that interrupts the teacher’s lesson and can cause students to engage and talk with the tardy student.

5. YouTube

Although many teachers choose to use YouTube for educational purposes to enhance their lessons, students can easily see YouTube as a classroom distraction. Because YouTube allows users to see suggested videos that might not be related to their current video, when a teacher is done showing a video to the class, students might see other videos that pique their interest and draw attention away from the lesson, causing them to talk to each other or go on YouTube on their own devices.

6. Class activities

A great way to keep students engaged with a lesson is by incorporating different activities that enhance the lesson. Whether it is group activities for collaboration, worksheets, or interactive games like Kahoot, in-class activities can help students grasp the material more effectively. However, when doing these activities requires students to move seats, work in groups or take out devices, unnecessary classroom distractions arise. 

Some of the biggest classroom distractions are ones that teachers don’t anticipate ahead of time. It is important to be able to identify where these distractions can come from so that you can look for suitable solutions to eliminate these distractions from the classroom.

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