It’s hard to fully commit when you are in an online meeting. The irresistible urge to multitask and complete other things on your To Do list calls to you. You can even look at the screen and see the others involved in the meeting looking everywhere else – taking phone calls, typing into another screen, sending a text message. With the proliferation of Zoom meetings, it’s become very hard to focus.
This is especially true during an online professional development session. While you may want to focus exclusively on the topic, it becomes challenging to not think about the other things you could be getting done. Let me just check email quickly, you think to yourself. Before you know it, you’ve responded to three emails and missed ten minutes of the session. You try to jump back in but have no idea what the facilitator is talking about.
The goal should really be not just attending PD, but rather attending to PD. There is a huge difference, and it comes down to how much focus and attention you are giving to the session. Try these strategies to ensure that you are tuning in to the PD you are participating in.
One Screen. Limit the number of screens that will draw your attention. One computer screen. No phone nearby. Don’t get easily distracted by switching between multiple windows on your computer. Just pay attention to the facilitator or presentation on the screen.
Take notes. Write down what you are learning as you are learning it. Use sketch notes or write in a notebook. The notes will help you remember the key takeaways while also helping you to focus in on what’s being said. Writing it down can also keep you from getting distracted by something else.
Prepare to share. Attend to the PD session as if you need to explain it or share it with a colleague. Be able to expand upon your notes and really give an in depth description of what you learned. Decide beforehand who you plan on sharing the learning with. Picking a specific person will make you more accountable to pay attention.
Log out. Don’t be tempted by your email or social media accounts. Log out first. Make it harder to become distracted during the session. Use a website blocker like BlockSite to shut down your go-to websites or social media accounts. Minimize distractions up front before you get started.
Just be. Forget everything else that you need to focus on and actually try to have fun learning. Learning something new in a PD session can be enjoyable. You just need to let it happen.
Don’t just attend PD.
Attend to PD.