How to Pay Attention in Class.

How to Pay Attention in Class

1. Remove your distractions. The most basic thing you can do to help you concentrate in class is to get away from the distractions that are keeping you from focusing. There are lots of things that might be taking your attention away from the lesson. Try to be more aware of what you’re doing when you stop paying attention. Once you know what it is, you can find a way to get rid of it.[1] Distractions include items like a computer, a phone, and small items that you can play with. Distractions also include things that are around you, like a friend, an annoying classmate, or a window.
Physical removal is the best way to deal with a distraction. So, for example, if you know a classmate is distracting you. Try sitting somewhere else. Your teacher will understand and will probably be more than happy to help you move seats.

2. Focus on the present. You have to try to keep your brain from wandering out of the classroom. No daydreaming! Keep your mind here, in the present and save thoughts about other stuff for later. This is hard to do but if you can make the change, it will really help you a lot.[2] Things you might catch yourself thinking about include: games, what you’re doing after school, your boyfriend or girlfriend (or lack thereof!), your friends, your family…even fantasy stuff like books you’d like to read or places you wish you could go.
You’ll have to learn to manually refocus your attention. Catch yourself and then make yourself think about the lesson again. Eventually it becomes a habit and you learn to daydream less.
This means that even if you’re thinking about another aspect of the class, like the test you have coming up, you’ll want to stop and refocus on what’s happening right now. It’s important to do things like think about tests but if your mind is wandering then you’re not absorbing the information that you need to learn at the moment.

3. Refocus your attention as necessary. Pay attention to what your mind is doing. If you catch yourself thinking about anything other than what’s currently happening in the lesson then you’re going to have to manually refocus your attention. Try saying back everything that your teachers says in your own head and really emphasizing the important bits.[3] One thing you might want to practice is building your ability to focus. Test yourself by trying to do a challenging task while listening to loud, distracting music. Focus is a skill which needs to be exercised and developed, just like any other.

4. Talk to your teacher about classes. Everyone learns in different ways. The way your teacher teaches may not be the best way for you or there may be ways to make class even better for you. Set aside some time to talk to your teacher about ways they think might help you get more out of your class.
Ask about learning styles. Some people learn better using pictures while some people learn better using sounds. These are called learning styles and there are lots of them. Ask your teacher to help you figure out which learning style helps you the most and how those types of lessons can be fit into your class.
Try making customized lessons or assignments that are more interesting for you to learn. You can also ask your teacher for extra credit or side projects which help you learn the same lessons but in a way that works better for you. If you’re serious about learning and you’re willing to put in hard work, your teacher will probably be willing to help you come up with something.

5. Create your own motivation. When you’re more motivated, you’ll find you have an easier time staying focused. Of course, if your teacher and your class can’t or won’t make you more motivated, you’ll have to work to create that motivation for yourself. This can be frustrating but it’ll be worth it: you’ll get the benefits of education, whether people want to help you along or not. There are lots of ways to make yourself motivated and interested in learning and what you do will depend on who you are.[4] You can try finding some aspect of the subject that is interesting to you. This can make the rest of the class more interesting because you’ll feel more like you’re building a base for the stuff that you want to learn. For example, maybe you don’t really like your history class but you do like medieval knights. You can try to imagine how all of the history that you are learning ties back to medieval knights, and you’ll find that that makes it easier to focus on what you’re learning.


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