Paul B. Thornton

While helping my fourth-grade grandson with one of his at-home Zoom classes, I was reminded of the importance of two principles related to teaching and learning.  

  1. Attention

Do I have your attention? Is the individual or student making eye contact with the teacher or parent? As my mother used to say, “Look at me when I’m talking to you.” My son’s basketball coach once said, “Don’t be looking at the floor when I’m talking to you. Look me in the eye.”

Is the employee or student multitasking? Electronic devices are addicting. Students feel compelled to check their phone or smart watch every 10 seconds. (not my grandson)  

Is the employee thinking about other tasks and priorities? What’s going on in his head?

What other distractions exist in the student’s environment? 

For any type of learning to occur, the first thing the teacher (parent, coach, manager, team leader) needs to do is get the attention and keep the attention of the student.

Put your cell phones away and all eyes on me!

  • 2. Repetition

All effective coaches and teachers use the power of repetition in the classroom and on the practice field. One form of repetition is simply repeating the same message over and over. The athletic coach goes over the same play 25 times in practice.

Advertising agencies have exploited this fact for years. See how many of the following slogans you can correctly match to the businesses that use them.

  1. Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.
  2. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.
  3. Like a good neighbor, _______________ is there.
  4. You’re in good hands with ___________________.
  5. Just Do It!

If you matched all or most of these slogans correctly, congratulations! But don’t let it go to your head. You know them not because you’re intelligent (although you may be!), but simply because you’ve heard them numerous times.


When you start to feel like a broken record, your message is probably just starting to get through. Repetition makes the message stick.


Of course, there is a lot more to teaching and learning than just these two points. However, these two principles—attention and repetition—are necessary requirements for learning to occur. 


Paul B. Thornton is an author and speaker. His latest e-book, Leadership-Perfecting Your Approach and Style-($1.99) is available on Amazon Kindle.