Sensory overload is something that many people experience and I would venture to say that everyone experiences at least once. As teachers, however, we need to be aware that some people experience this regularly and some even daily in their lives. For example, I have anxiety and migraines and sensory overload is a symptom of both for me. Textures, light, sound can all become too much for me and I can have a very physical response to it.
What does all this have to do with classroom timers? Let's explore it a bit. Often, classroom timers are big, can be bright, and loud. They include a countdown of numbers that is constantly changing. They end with an alarm signaling time that is, too often, a loud repetitive ringing. All of these things can prompt sensory overload and can trigger major anxiety.
Today... I have a headache. It is not so bad that I cannot function, but sound is a trigger right now for me. I also needed a timer in class today. I went to an old favourite: Online-Stopwatch and was about to browse through to find a quiet timer when I noticed some choice menus at the top of the page. I honestly don't know how new of a feature this is, but I know that I just noticed it and have not heard much or any discussion on this topic.... so here it is.
Online-Stopwatch now includes a variety of sensory and calming timers. I've included links to the menus below. Check them out and let me know which are your favourites in the comments. Today, I am rocking this sensory marble timer.
Firstly, I cannot take credit for the origination of this idea. My colleague and friend Dr. Elizabeth Davidson first suggested to me that we consider playing ambient music while students worked during time when we weren't directly teaching this year. In the past, I've used testing and writing playlists (which I still use as the students want them), but this is something a little different. This music/these sounds serve more as a grounding, in my opinion, than as a playlist of music.
I am one who cannot work in silence. I need music or sounds otherwise I get lost in my own thoughts, can become discouraged, or even distracted. I have a playlist for just about every chore or to do item once can imagine. I have playlists with words and playlists without, it all depends. What Liz suggested, however, was more of an ASMR experience. A visual scene presented via youtube and sounds or soft music that can play non-stop during class.
And so, I present this playlist. It is not complete, but these are the sounds and music I have been playing so far in class. It will update as I work through it. Enjoy :)
Davidson, E. (2021). Beyond Solitaire. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/beyondsolitaire
This page is dedicated to my compilation of ideas and resources. You can find my sources either in these posts or listed under the other pages in this menu.