Here are five ideas to help your classroom survive before spring break, perk up your students, and boost everyone’s moods along the way.
Somehow the weeks leading to spring break feel longer than the laws of nature should allow. And sometimes, students (and teachers) lose their motivation, making productivity levels plummet. It can feel like wading through molasses to get to the next break.
But there are ways to dislodge this perennial slump:
Keep an eye on your weather forecast. If you happen to catch a glimpse of spring weather, take advantage of it by moving class outdoors. The fresh air and vitamin D really do improve a mood, and it’s good to get students out of the classrooms they’ve been stuck in since November. Bonus: This is a great opportunity for a technology break!
Move More Indoors
If the winter weather is too persistent, or if you are teaching something that won’t allow you to go outside, find ways to get your students’ blood flowing.
Play a quick game before you start teaching (here’s one of my favorites, great for all ages).
During your lesson, allow students to take notes while sitting on top of their desks or sitting criss-cross-applesauce at the front of the room. Have them do 15 jumping jacks midway through your lesson or lead a game of Simon Says. Take a stretch break or start a massage train.
If you’re weary of facilitating the movement, websites like GoNoodle are great ways to provide brain breaks and let some sillies out and give you a minute to rest your voice.
Start a Tradition
Make your students look forward to walking into your classroom by starting something new together. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time.
Wordle and Nerdle are both perfect for this. I recently saw the sweetest video of a third grade class going bananas as they solved the daily Wordle together. These games are fantastic because they’re quick, yet they activate problem-solving and logic in a fun and accessible way.
Another idea could be to get your students involved in random acts of kindness. Give them a list of ideas and have them keep a log. Start a kindness jar, dropping a small object into the jar for each act (like buttons or marbles). You could use a little bit of class time to write about it or have a discussion. It feels good to do good, and seeing tangible evidence of their peers’ kindness will be a positive daily reminder to continue to spread kindness to others.
I’ve also seen those viral teachers who stand at the door and greet their students with secret handshakes or charts (fist bump, high five, hug) as a positive way to start the day.
There are other options out there, too. Point is, just find one that suits your style (and your time limits) and help put smiles on your students’ faces as you start your day together.
Set Class Goals to Achieve Before Spring Break
Motivate students to give more effort by setting class goals, such as in reading (minutes or pages), a class average on a test, or even a streak of days in which you don’t have to pick up items off the floor after everyone leaves. The goal-setting will work best if students have a say in setting the parameters because they’ll be more invested. You can facilitate it and help make sure it’s challenging yet attainable.
Offer a reward for meeting the class goal. It could be a game day, a free write day, or a special snack day. There is no shame in dangling that carrot in front of your students!
Create a Countdown to Help You Survive
It may sound overly simple, but a countdown to spring break can help you and your students see the big picture on those harder days, similar to the way writing out a to-do list somehow makes your tasks feel less overwhelming.
The countdown could be something simple like a paper chain or a flower with removable petals (put a few of your creative/helpful students on the job to save yourself some time). Or it could be more elaborate, like a calendar that has a fun little hidden activity under each day that is removed (like a class-wide rock-paper-scissors tournament, a game of trashketball, or a compliment circle).
Production and motivation don’t have to succumb to the pre-spring-break black hole. With just a little nudge here and there, your students may walk in each day with eagerness and energy to accept the challenges you give them. So fill up that favorite coffee mug, take a deep breath, and walk in there like the champ you are.
P.S. Out of energy and ideas for lesson plans? Need something easy? Try out our No-Prep Lesson Plan smorgasbord and grab something simple for your week!
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