Guest post via @amgonza: Small Changes for the Final Stretch of the School Year

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As we enter this final stretch of the school year, spring fever is in the air and everyone is eager for summer vacation. Warm and sunny days make for beautiful weather, but the classroom climate can be quite tempestuous as students are ready for the school year to be over. They slouch in their seats, slack on their work and whine about anything that’s remotely rigorous. And those, of course, are the easy problems – other more challenging students may step up their rebellion a tad bit putting discipline issues on the rise. Like a tired runner on her last lap of the race, it’s very easy for teachers to lose momentum, but this is a critical time to pick up speed to ensure we finish strong. For many of us, this may mean making a few small changes. After all, we can’t lose momentum as it’s the last lap that determines the outcome. We may feel tempted to slow down or drop out, but we can’t achieve a win unless we persevere until the very end.

As we near the finish line, we want to be creative, spontaneous and engaging, but also consistent and focused. However, we can’t disregard the human factor. It’s easy to become frustrated at the disengagement, yet in order to win them over, we may need to adjust our own approaches and shift our attitude.  If we are not excited and positive, much less will our students be.

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Here are some small changes that I have found help stir up some positivity and brighten up the remaining school days.

  • Increase positive recognition. I’m usually pretty good about pointing out the good in my students, but I’ve been trying to dig a little deeper.  And I don’t want to just tell them individually, I want to make sure the entire class knows about the treasures I find.
  • Ignore the small stuff.  I’m picking my battles carefully and so I can stay focused on the learning targets.
  • Share myself.  Be open and honest, willing to share joys, successes, and setbacks.  As I tell students about my own stumbling blocks and how I turn them into stepping stones, many may find connections and hopefully be encouraged.
  • Take time to laugh.  A little amusement can do a lot of good. Happy teachers will produce happy students.  Learning and laughing are not mutually exclusive.
  • End the class with a joke.  I try to end my class periods on a positive note by sharing a little motivation or encouragement as they are launched from my room.  This last quarter I’m ending the class period with a riddle or joke.

I believe these small changes, can reap great rewards. Bottom line, kids won’t care about learning, if they don’t know that we care about them, the learner.

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*Originally published on Teaching Tidbits

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