Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Great Fidget Debate

I have thought a lot about the fidget craze, and I am going to take an unpopular viewpoint as an educator. First and foremost, I teach kids from Kindergarten to 8th grade so there is a varied age span to work with. There are numerous students, of all ages, who bring fidgets into my class. I immediately set the boundaries and if they play with them within the limits, fine. The clear boundary is if they are too distracting, they disappear for a while. I have yet to meet resistance to this from the students. It was pointed out that they are "status toys." Got it, we made our own out of paper so that everyone could have one. This lead to a lot of creativity, collaboration, following step by step directions, and try and try again until your fidget worked correctly. I felt these were good life-skills that we all need to sharpen.

In all honesty, I have had "fidgets" in my LLC since I became the librarian. However they were in the form of a box of beanie babies. Students of all ages have grabbed a fidget as they came into class when needed. Have they been a distraction, sometimes, and then they are taken away. Frankly, anything can be a distraction, velcro shoes, bracelets, hair twirling, bands on the bottoms of chairs, balls to sit on and various other items if you want to look hard enough.  I, myself, cannot sit in a workshop or lectured class without doodling. That does not mean I am not paying attention, it means I need more stimuli TO pay attention. Instead of looking at kids with fidgets as a distraction, I look at it as a kid who needs something more from me. The fidget is a visual reminder for me to check in with the student more often to make sure s/he is understanding what I am saying or doing.

I think in this great debate of fidgets in or out of schools we are missing the point of WHY do kids need them? In the age of technology, are our children sitting too much?  When I see a ton of fidgets being taken out in my class, I wonder if my teaching techniques need to change. I think, have my kids been sitting too long? As an educator, I am ok with the fidget craze as it gives me the opportunity to question my techniques, ask my students why they think they need them, and follow through with those that otherwise may be lost in the crowd. Probably not a popular perspective, but one that works for me.
Keep reading,
The Noisy Librarian

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