Battling Decision Fatigue
The average day for a teacher consists of making approximately 1,500 decisions, which can lead to decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is a condition in which the brain becomes so worn out and overloaded with decisions that it either stops working entirely or begins to look for shortcuts. Reading instructors frequently succumb to decision fatigue, which causes them to outsource their decision-making to various manuals, guides, and social media platforms that promise a quick fix. This outsourcing is a natural consequence of trying to cope with decision fatigue, which is something that all of us have experienced at some point.
The unfortunate result, however, is that outsourcing frequently results in teaching that falls short of the mark, and as a result, we end up having to reteach concepts to our students even when they are ready for them, which can lead to increased levels of exhaustion for the students.
Concentrating on the decisions that will have the most significant effect is an effective strategy for overcoming decision fatigue. Our investigation led us to discover three choices that are deserving of the consideration of reading teachers. They all begin with regaining trust in one’s innate intuitive expertise, which is essential to one’s success, through the process of letting students serve as one’s guide.
DECISION 1: WHAT BOOKS DO I MAKE SURE END UP IN MY STUDENTS’ HANDS?
The more that students read, and by “really read,” I mean read from beginning to end without skimming or pretending to read, the better readers they become. Students have a greater propensity to read when they are engrossed in the plot of an excellent book and when they are learning about a subject that piques their interest. In addition, a pivotal study discovered that students significantly increased the amount of time they spent reading when their classrooms contained classroom libraries.
There is no one book or set of books that will inspire reading in each and every student. However, we’ve found that books are more likely to be purchased when they are easy to relate to, depict an experience that the students have had in their own lives, centre on topics that are at least a little bit controversial, and have storylines that encourage readers to develop empathy for people whose life experiences are very different from their own.
Students have a greater chance of developing into independent readers if their teachers make the decision to place a high priority on book selection in the classroom. Students are able to gain easy access to books that they can read and books that they want to read more easily with the help of student book talks, student book blogs, and well-stocked classroom libraries.
DECISION 2: WHAT KINDS OF CONVERSATIONS SHOULD MY STUDENTS HAVE ABOUT THEIR READING?
Instead of asking, “Should we let students talk?” the question should be, “How much and what kinds of talk should there be?” When teachers make room for daily conversations during read-alouds, shared reading, independent reading, and book club experiences, they notice an increase in their students’ engagement with the texts they are reading as well as their comprehension of those texts.
The most important thing is to give students a variety of general options regarding what to talk about, so that the conversations do not feel forced or manufactured. Encourage students to contribute ideas for topics of conversation with you, and then give them the opportunity to select those that most pique their interest. For instance, the list could include the desires of the main character, whether or not the narrator can be trusted, or whether or not students would want to be friends with a particular character.
To summarise, it is essential to keep in mind that students learn more when they have the opportunity to talk before, during, and after reading for a few minutes each day.
DECISION 3: WHAT KINDS OF WRITING SHOULD I ENCOURAGE MY STUDENTS TO DO ABOUT THEIR READING?
The practise of maintaining a reading notebook in which students decide how to document and develop their thinking is beneficial to the students. The students’ notebooks are stuffed with a wide variety of entries, each of which gives the student the impression that he or she, in addition to the instructor, is a member of the audience.
Notebook entries can help students save their thinking in those places and remind them of where their thinking left off, similar to how bookmarks are used to remind readers of where they left off in a book. These notebooks turn into individualised, risk-free spaces for students to experiment with their thinking. Students are given the confidence to express their creativity when their notebooks are treated in the same manner as the trendy bullet journals.
Reading-notebook entries from readers typically include one of three distinct types of thinking:
In one section of the book, readers are prompted to write about what’s going through their minds at the moment.
Readers are asked to write about ideas that have been formed over time as a result of recognising patterns in multiple places throughout the text.
Refining thinking requires readers to reflect on their previous thinking and then develop and improve upon it.
Students gain from keeping notebook entries in which they choose how to write about their thinking; teachers should encourage students’ creativity, visual representations, and a variety of entry types over the course of the school year.
We want to make sure that you make the most of the energy you spend deciding things. Your instruction will be simplified significantly if you concentrate on these three primary choices. Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a situation where you are experiencing decision fatigue, give yourself a break and keep in mind that not every decision is worthy of your time and effort. Find a middle ground that benefits both you and the students you teach.