So the cold weather is upon us, the dark nights are drawing in and the festive celebrations seems so far away, sigh. Whether a full-time teacher or working in supply, we all find it a little more difficult to keep our pupils attention spans at a high with Christmas around the corner. Classroom morale is important, its what drives us through the day (with the added mixture of coffee and sugar!) so it’s important to make sure that we’re all on top form. With this in mind, we think it’s time to shake off the winter weariness, and offer some great tips on how you can inject some much-needed energy into your teaching and their work, starting 2015 with a bang.
Ask the Students
Before you say it, we know, it’s possibly one of the scariest things you could ever do BUT it does have its advantages. It’s amazing how many valuable things can be learned from your students when you ask them what they think, especially when you’re in on a day-to-day basis. It’s obvious that school isn’t always going to be a piece of cake and not everyone has the same preferences, but as we all know, children love to tell us what they want in a classroom, so maybe once in a while we could surprise them by following it through? Whether it be a fun activity or a ten minute video, everyone will appreciate the change of scenery, thus adding a little ‘umph’ to the rest of their day.
Be expressive… SMILE.
So you woke up to rain, the shower was cold and someone had used the last of the milk in the staffroom this morning. We all have days where we feel a little glum, especially around this time of year when the flu seems to take it upon itself to infect us at the most inconvenient of times. Although we may feel like wrapping ourselves in a duvet cocoon, smiling can be wonderfully contagious. Good vibes are essentially what will spur your pupils on, if we don’t look like we want to be teaching, why would the children feel the need to learn.
Strengths and weaknesses
With the festive season being the time of giving, it’s great to remind your students that no good deed is forgotten. Push their boundaries and keep them motivated by offering small incentives throughout the days, weeks or month. Regardless of the reward, everyone loves to know that their hard work and dedication is appreciated, so hand out those chocolates by the hundreds (they release happy endorphins, wahoo!) and keep the motivation at a high.
Some love art, some love maths, some even love a good bit of both. Either way, it’s good to keep your lessons relevant. Integrate a little bit of the Christmassy vibe, whether you’re multiplying and subtracting gifts or constructing an impressive snowflake collection to hang from the ceiling, it keeps everyone learning, on track AND excited about the jolly period. When students are interested in a subject and want to know more, they’re more likely to stay focused and work efficiently.
Get them warmed up
It can be quite difficult to get your team of wonderful learners to calm down and pay attention at the start of a new lesson. So practice concentration from the outset. Start with a quick fire quiz or an activity that gets them up and out of their seat, giving them no choice but to participate. If you’re on the ball from the very start of the lesson and run a tight ship, your pupils are far more likely to stay engaged in what is popped in front of them.
Make it social
Projects, groups and class discussions turn the tables and give a little more control to the children. Let them do the talking and plan around 15-20 minute cycles to increase attention span. Giving them the chance to take on leadership roles and combining learning with socializing, gives students the chance to have fun working together or competing against each other to achieve goals.
Regardless of HOW you motivate, continue to keep your class on a high, we all know that time flies when you’re having fun… Keep going, Christmas is coming!