Once spring break comes and goes, the countdown to summer has begun and a lot of kids (and some teachers) are ready to check out of learning for the last few weeks until summer vacation. But, just by changing up your classroom routine—yes, that routine you’ve built up all year and are comfortably settled into—you can help keep your kids better engaged through the rest of the school year.
Start with a few questions about your current schedule. Then, see what you can do to shake up the timing to help everyone have a better day of learning that plays to, instead of against, our natural strengths.
What’s your daily lesson plan like?
Which subjects do you teach in the morning? Which ones are delegated to the afternoon? Feature the more analytic and cognitive subjects like math and English in the morning and set students to work on more creative projects and classes like art and music in the afternoon. You might be surprised at what happens with your students’ productivity and behavior compared to their previous performance.
When do you usually schedule tests and quizzes?
Because of the way our energy, alertness, and creativity surge and recede throughout the course of the day, people of all ages tend to be better at analytic tasks earlier in the day and at creative endeavors later in the afternoon. Kids perform better on tests in the morning, outstripping how well they typically do in the afternoon. High schoolers, on the other hand, have a slightly skewed chronotype and need more sleep so they might be better off taking a late morning instead of early morning exam. So, if you tend to give tests in the afternoon or at the end of the day, try switching it up and see how it affects your students!
Do your students get breaks throughout the day?
In many schools, recess is being shortened or even eliminated, but in fact, for students and adults alike, breaks and even naps are a crucial part of how productive and creative we can be throughout the day. Not to mention, teachers don’t get many breaks during the day, and allowing the children to reset and recharge with a short break here and there will give teachers a break as well. Outdoor breaks are great, but even short breaks of a few minutes that are social or involve moving around instead of sitting still will be beneficial.
The home stretch of the school year starts when everyone returns from spring break. Instead of trying to compete with the kids’ anticipation of warm weather and daydreams of summer vacation, try something different. You might see some defiance to the change at first, but if any of it improves grades and maintains their interest, it’s worth a try. So, go on and shake up the routine!