Magazine article The Learning Professional

The Pause That Refreshes

Magazine article The Learning Professional

The Pause That Refreshes

Article excerpt

recently learned about a "20-20-20" rule for reducing eyestrain caused by spending too much time in front of a computer screen: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look at a point at least 20 feet away. As someone who buries my nose in a laptop for hours at a time, I found this in some ways very reasonable and simple, and in other ways ridiculous. I've barely dug in deep to some good writing after 20 minutes. Who wants to stop then?

However, as I practice this exercise, I notice an added benefit. When the timer goes off and I look into the middistance, something is happening in my brain. When I pause, I consider what I'm doing in new ways. I return to the information in front of me with a different perspective.

The 20-20-20 exercise is one I'd like to adapt as we think about what our brains need to learn. When we barrel ahead bringing in new information, whether it's with other adults, challenging content, new teaching strategies, or a new software program, we're putting a lot of strain on our brains. If we don't take a moment to look up, take a deep breath, and consider where new information fits in with what we know already, we risk losing all sense of how to use that new information to grow.

This notion aligns with research that stresses the importance of reflection in learning, not to mention the other elements of supporting learning in ways that lead to changed practice, such as ongoing follow-up, coaching, and opportunities for practice.

Taking time to pause and reflect isn't automatic for educators. …

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