Sometimes called “Anti-septic Bouncing” and at other times called guided environment change – this technique serves me well in both brick and mortar and virtual environments.
Sometimes students just need a break. Learning, especially when you are pushing past your comfort zone like students do everyday in school, can be intense. This stress manifests in student behaviors that are often undesirable. Sending a student on an errand effectively gives them a chance to take a constructive break and diffuse their tension.
In a traditional school I use this regularly though it requires a bit of preparation in some schools and a bit of cooperation from other people in the building. At one school I worked out a deal with the librarian. Anytime I sent a student to her on an “errand” with a blue sticky note she knew the student needed a break and to give them something simple to do for five minutes. Sometimes she would just have them sit at the counter and talk with her. It really did not matter – the point was for the student to be away from a stressful situation.
In a virtual school this is a bit simpler with the exception that students have a harder time leaving the environment of their stressor since it is usually their own home. In this case I try to design an education related need for them to be outside. “Instead of writing this essay – go outside and write your observations of the clouds,” only works during a weather unit or if I have a way to tie the clouds into a creative writing assignment. Still my students are getting used to me telling them that they need to go for a walk before taking a quiz.
Why is this an intervention?
Students typically do not know how to read their own emotional state. Using this fairly unrestrictive intervention proactively helps them tune into their own processes and gives them time to reflect on learning without dwelling on the stress of a learning situation. Definitely my favorite intervention!