11 Ways to Keep Students Focused at the End of the Year
The countdown has begun.
The end of the school year is almost upon us. You might be crossing the days off on your calendar, looking forward to your break.
But before your break begins, you still have a classroom to maintain.
How do you keep control of your classroom when both you and your students know that the school year is nearly over?
Here are a few tips for maintaining a classroom in which order and learning still rule supreme.
The Rules Still Apply
It may be easier for you at the moment, but allowing your students to get away with even a small thing send the message that your rules matter less now than they did previously. Give you and your rules more credit than that. Before there are any breakdowns in behavior, have a conversation with your class about the rules. Review them again in full and remind them that these rules still apply until they walk out of your classroom for the last time. Remind students of the reasoning behind the rules – to keep everyone safe and able to learn.
Make sure you have this conversation with your students in moments of peace and calm and not as a reaction to something that happened. Coming at this from the point of frustration can seem like a challenge for some of your more trying students and actually cause behavior issues.
Quit Mentioning the Countdown
For some students, your classroom is the place they feel the most comfortable and safe. They have spent all year with you, you are a safe place for them. Continuing to bring up the change may create anxiety and cause students to act out in your classroom. If you feel like some of your students feel anxious about the change, have a conversation about how exciting new things can be. Do what you can to set their minds at ease.
As teachers, you have great lessons that you never had the time to implement. Now is your time! Get out your lab coat and do that messy science experiment. Do that theatre reading lesson that gets everyone involved. This is your chance to have all the fun you want to have, while still teaching great lessons.
Get your class outside. Go for a nature walk. Do a color scavenger hunt. Study a particular plant and have your students reproduce it on paper. Sometimes all your students need is a new environment to learn in and reengage their mind in the process.
Your students have been hearing your voice all year long. And while your voice has given them so much knowledge and encouraged them in their studies, they are tired of hearing you talk. You can lessen your speaking in the classroom in a few different ways:
Write on the Board
Give yourself a break and write the directions on the board instead of verbalizing it. This gives your classroom quiet time to work.
Have Students Present
Give your students an opportunity to present in class. You can assign groups or individuals to talk about any number of things; their favorite thing in a subject area, the most challenging thing they’ve learned, a genius hour project, etc.
Invite a Guest Speaker
Organize a guest speaker to come and speak with your class about their job or passion. It is so beneficial for your students to hear from other adults about what they do. Having a guest speaker come in just for your class makes your students feel very important too! A guest speaker can open up your day to a whole new lesson plan as your students learn all about something new.
Give your students some variety by creating a theme for the day or week. You can play this up and deck out both you and your classroom in the theme, or you can play this down and simply do activities that center around your theme. Have fun with it and do whatever you want!
You know what your students want to do at the end of the year? They want to talk and move around in your classroom. So, after you have clearly reinstated the rules and made it obvious that your expectations will not be shifting, help your students out a bit! Create activities that get them talking and moving in productive ways.
Review Review Review
Don’t let up on your academic studies! Review all you’ve taught your students this year.
Genius Project Days
Instead of a constant flow of busy work papers that you have to prepare, give your students some time to work on a pre-approved genius project of their choosing (within reason). Give them the materials they need to complete their project. These projects can look very different depending on your grade level.
Group projects help grow your students’ social skills, communication, self-control, teamwork, and so much more. Take advantage of this by doing group projects. Remember, this will take more work from you on the front end, but you end up facilitating rather than teaching during this time.
Take some time to write letters for next year’s classroom or the favorite administrator or lunch facilitators! Students can write to each other too. Encourage creativity and excellence.
The end of the school year can be an exciting time. There is so much to look forward to next year! Hopefully, this list will assist you in maintaining a peaceful and positive environment as you finish up the year with your class.
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