Do you know how many days are left before summer vacation? If you don’t, you can be sure your students do. With warmer weather and testing schedules, it’s easy for the last few weeks of school to become a free-for-all, especially when it comes to keeping your students on task in the classroom. If you’ve started to notice those summertime feelings creeping into your lesson plans, here are a few helpful ways to still make the most of those final days.
Don’t do a countdown
Your students may have the urge to display the number of days left until the end of the school year but try to discourage this behavior as much as possible, not only for your students, but also for yourself. Counting down days can cause anxiety about how much work is still left to be done and can also create the feeling that everyone is just waiting for the time to pass. Angela Watson, a trailblazer of modern teacher blogging, explains that a countdown fooled her into thinking that nothing of value could be accomplished in such a limited time period. If you as a teacher seem to be focused on biding your time until an end, your students are sure to pick up on that behavior as well.
Add movement to your lesson plans
“Can we have class outside?” Warmer weather is sure to bring out some extra energy in your students, no matter their ages. If it’s appropriate to the lesson plan and you’ve received appropriate permission from the administration, relocate class outside for a day and let them experience some fresh air. If you need to stay indoors, take periodic breaks for students to release some of that pent-up energy. With younger children, use hand-clapping patterns to help with memorization techniques. High school students may also benefit from a quick “seventh-inning stretch.” If you need to clean out your classroom before the end of the school year, get your students involved! Make the clean-up process into a game or an assembly line to cross one more item off your to-do list.
Find ways to reduce stress
You may be worrying whether you have enough time to finish all the end-of-year paperwork. Your students may be concerned about studying enough to pass all their tests. Don’t feel that you need to rush through everything just because so many deadlines are approaching. Remember to take a breath and keep practicing the healthy habits that got you through the rest of the school year. Stick to a regular eating schedule and avoid the urge to pick up fast food every time you work late. Get permission to incorporate a five-minute meditation or yoga session into the end of the class period. Find ways to slow down your days and take the time that you need with your students to ensure they’re getting the most out of your lesson plans.
Change up your teaching strategy
It may be tempting to turn on auto-pilot during the last weeks of school, but these days present a unique opportunity. Take advantage of the last few weeks to experiment with different teaching strategies that you would be nervous to attempt during the rest of the school year. Include new technology in your lessons or develop hands-on activities that allow students to approach the subject matter in a different way. Unique activities will keep students engaged and will help you shape your lesson plans for the next school year.
Keep standards high
You’ve expected certain behaviors from your students all throughout the year, so why should you stop just because summer vacation is approaching? Keep practicing basic classroom management techniques and remind your students about classroom rules when they start to get antsy. Incentivize good behavior if needed and assign leadership roles to students who might want to coast through the rest of the school year. Rewards and exciting projects will also give students something else to look forward to besides the last day of school.
Taking advantage of the pre-summer season
The final weeks of school are never easy. The combination of warm weather and growing anticipation can make everyone, including teachers, wish they were somewhere else. At Insight, our data shows a high uptick in teacher absences in the weeks before the school year ends. There is also often an increased demand for educators to supervise students during end-of-year exams. Insight educators can take advantage of these open positions by checking Frontline (formerly Aesop) daily and calling our office at (856) 406-6015. The Insight Call Center is always ready to help find you a position every day that you want to work!