It is two weeks until Spring break, state testing begins a few weeks after we return, students are tired, and let’s face it, teachers are tired. How do you overcome the tiredness and the apathy to keep the rigor high until the break? First take a deep breath and know that you are making a difference everyday in the lives of your students whether you know it or not, and then try a few of these suggestions.
1. Student Choice
Student choice is key to getting student buy in for many things in the classroom. I try to incorporate student choice in as many things as possible even if that means students get to chose between topic A or B. When students feel they have a voice in what happens in the classroom, they are more inclined to comply with directions, engage in the activity and gain more knowledge out of the experience.
2. Meaningful Projects
Plan a project for students. I’m not talking about the type of project that simply reviews content, although there is a place for that, but not right before a break. I’m talking about project based learning. Students learning content through their projects. One project I love to do in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Winter break is my Biography Poster Project. This requires students to pick a historical figure, research, write, be creative in designing their posters and then asks them to teach the class about the person they researched. I’ve done this project for a few years and now it one of those assignments students entering class ask when they will get to complete it.
3. Keep Expectations High
I know it is tempting to start letting things slide because “break is just around the corner.” Some students are counting on that, but in reality they need you to keep your expectations high, they need you to believe in them when they want to quit.
4. Positive Parent Contact
This is a great time of year to start sending out those positive emails and making those positive phone calls home. This will reward the students who are doing the right thing and also helps you see that there are several students still working and trying. Don’t let the bad behavior of a few cloud the fact many of your students are still working.
Hang in there, break will be here before you know it. You set the tone for your class and if you don’t give in to the tiredness of the year, neither will your students. When your break comes, I hope each of you has an amazing and restful break.