We know spring has apparently sprung when students begin to peer out the classroom window and be less than focused during class time. Even as the adults in the equation, we can find ourselves pining for sunshine and fresh air. In order for adults to maintain clarity and purpose, students to stay focused, keep students on task and maintain learning as our top priority, here are seven ideas for keeping focused and abating spring fever!
Bringing students into the conversation regarding their progress can bring about buy-in to their own learning. A whole new level of focus comes when students know they will be sitting in front of their parents and sharing their goals, progress and learning. Hosting student-led parent/teacher conferences ups the ante, if you will, by partnering students and parents with the aim of bringing about focus on learning.
Having a goal in front of us, keeps us focused on the task at hand. While we may have students set goals at the beginning of the year, spring is an opportunity to revisit those goals and/or set new goals to finish strong, improve upon areas needing work and keep an eye on the finish line.
Focus on Learning, not Assessment
Spring is the time for state assessments and, undoubtedly, there is some sense of urgency, anxiety even, that comes with this season. As with any time of year, it is essential to keep learning at the top of the priority list rather than scoring well on the state assessment. Student learning is why we are in this business, and we need to fight the urge to be assessment-driven in our approach. Students will buy in to learning that is rigorous and relevant to their context, and the state assessment will take care of itself as a result of learning-driven instruction.
[tweetthis]Student learning is why we are in business. Fight the urge to be assessment-driven in our approach.[/tweetthis]
Students can be motivated by external incentives, in particular when focus may be hard to come by. While external incentives may be temporary, they can be a surface way to grab students’ attention and bring them back to the learning table.
Get Them Involved: Extra-curricular Activities
Extra-curricular activities (clubs, sports, events) help to keep students connected to school and can give students added purpose to come to school each day. As the year gets long in the tooth, we can remind students of all the ways they can be involved in the life of our schools both during and after the school day is over. Send out flyers, announcements, e-blasts and social media outlets to promote student involvement reminding them of the many outlets for their unique talents and abilities.
It all starts with relationships with our students and ensuring we renew these relationships periodically is key. By March, there has been a lot of water under the bridge and time may need to be spent on building positive relationships again with individual students and classes as a whole. Doing this renewal process will bring about continued harmony and enjoyment as the school year comes to a close.
Above all, have FUN! Learning is fun and our goal should be to ignite a love of learning in students so they continue to pursue their academic passions after they walk out our classroom door. Laugh, share stories, enjoy the outdoors, bring in fresh ideas and allow students to show their individual personalities. If there is not already, there should be an adage that says: “Smile from the first day of school to the last…show kids you enjoy what you are doing.”
Join the Conversation
One of the best parts of doing the podcasts is the opportunity to interact with other lead learners. Each week we pose one question for discussion. This week’s question is below:
What do you and your school do to keep students focused during the spring fever months? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Dr. Michael Methvin is the principal at Pleasant Hope Elementary School in southwest Missouri. He has served as a building principal since 2005 at both the elementary and secondary levels after beginning his career in education as a business teacher. Prior to moving to the Midwest and becoming an educator, he spent time working in marketing, advertising, and the internet industry in Boston and New York. Currently, Michael enjoys encouraging his team to try new and creative things in their classrooms, hosting the Lead Learner Podcast, and spending time with his family.
Dr. Shane Dublin has been the principal at Bolivar Middle School for the past 10 years. As an educator, he has a passion for being involved in conversations centering around learning, innovation, taking risks and bringing about the best in those around him. He believes the “whatever it takes” philosophy applies to all areas within the academic community and strives to challenge all students, provide interventions for struggling learners and nurture kids toward becoming responsible and productive citizens.
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