Returning from spring break and moving into warm weather creates anticipation for the summer holiday. How do you recharge the spirit in your classroom and ensure that the remaining weeks of school are engaging and productive?
First, think back to the over-arching goals you had for your students back when you were preparing for the current academic year. August hopes for student learning are usually ambitious, and somewhere in February, most teachers face a bleak moment when they realize that they are not going to complete every topic or unit at the level they had planned, before the end of the year. Teachers who love their work know that this is normal, as August plans tend to be aspirational and designed from the perspective of having just had eight weeks of rest. However, even though teachers know they probably were overly ambitious for their students’ learning back in August, they also know that April is NOT TOO LATE to accomplish something worthwhile before the end of the year. They recognize the importance of recalibrating plans for the year, just as they recalibrate a daily lesson plan based on their students’ response to it.
Perhaps the focus in April planning will center on a skill that you believe is essential to success in the future. For an elementary teacher, it might be “waiting your turn without demanding to be the center of attention,” or “writing a complete sentence with a capital letter and a period,” or “listening to all the directions before seeking to ask a question.” For a math teacher, it might be “checking your work carefully.” For a history or science teacher, it might be “making close observations and asking penetrating questions before drawing a conclusion.” For an English or world language teacher, it might be “listening closely during discussion and responding directly to others in the class, rather than simply waiting your turn to talk about your own idea,” or “making a thoughtful revision to written work before declaring it is finished.” For a fine arts teacher or coach, it might include “practicing drawing the line, or making the shot, or playing the phrase relentlessly, until the action becomes fluent.” Teachers have deep understanding of the skills and behaviors that successful students employ, and they desire that all of their students gain the ability to use those skills and behaviors.
So, here it is, April, and not all the students in your class have yet gained whatever those deeply important skills may be. It’s not too late to take another shot at putting at least one of those skills in place! Take your final unit or project or activity, and plan it to include lots of practice using the skill that you want your students to carry with them into the future. You may even decide to change up the routines of your class in order to provide more time to rehearse the behavior you want your students to acquire and to bring a sense of freshness to the class. By intentionally focusing on something that’s truly important to you as a teacher, you will infuse your final unit of study with passion, and your students will feel it. Rededicate yourself to your original goals, and you and your students will re-engage!