I just read an article about fidget spinners and I was really bothered by it, so bothered that I had to stop everything because I was inspired to write my own thoughts. A fidget spinner, if you don't already know, is supposed to help students with stress, anxiety, and ADHD focus better. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, according to the article (and many teachers), "Spinners Are the Effing Worst" Click on the link, if you want to read the entire article.
My thoughts are not really about fidget spinners, as a matter of fact I've never had a student in my class use this, but that's not the point. Teachers around the country are talking about how these "toys" are ruining THEIR classrooms. This is what got me thinking. There are two distinct issues here:
1. Are the students using the fidget spinner because they're bored?
2. Do the students really need the fidget spinner to help reduce anxiety, stress, or to help them focus?
Are students bored?
If students are using the fidget spinner because they are bored, then teachers need to ask themselves, What am I doing to help my students feel more connected to this content? I'm not sure when people began thinking that it is the student's fault that they are bored and that it's the students responsibility to change their behavior. As a teacher, if you know that your students are bored, then it's YOUR job to change that.
Do students really need the spinner?
I bet there are plenty of students that can, and do, benefit from using a spinner or similar object. So, instead of banning it from classrooms, what can a teacher do to make sure it's not a distraction for everyone else in the room? Teachers must explicitly teach students how to properly use all tools in a classroom. This shouldn't be any different. Of course, if you don't explicitly teach students how to use it, there might eventually be problems. That is obvious. There is a huge benefit to allowing students to use these spinners. The question is, are teachers thinking about what's best for themselves? Or, are they asking, is this what's best for the students I serve?
I know that we all have things that distract us and make teaching difficult, but I expect teachers to put their students interest first. Then you must figure out how to make it work within your environment.