- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
The time from Thanksgiving through Christmas break is a paradox of time. The days blend together and fly by as the end of semester checklist is slowly completed. But the hours seem to crawl by as you fight against commercialism, seasonal change and holiday excitement for the attention of your students. Here are a few things I do to balance the crazy and make it through the end of the semester.
1- Focus: This year I decided to pick a character trait and focus on teaching it for the month of December. This has brought smiles and laughter to our classroom daily, while allowing me to take a minute to breath. We have focused on giving through discussion, writing and sharing of ourselves. This conscious decision to make giving an objective in my classroom has balanced the stress of testing and end of semester responsibilities. Take a break from state and local objectives to incorporate character lessons for your students.
2- Play: GoNoodle is a favorite in our classroom, but there are many ways to take a brain break. This week I read an article on Edutopia with brain break activities as well as relaxation activities. While we assume our students know how to do these things, we need to teach them how to relax. Think about how much time you are asking students to sit and when you are allowing movement. I always know it is time to take a break when the students start getting restless. It is also a great idea to do a relaxation activity before testing or before starting a writing activity. Take a break in the academics to include physical activity for your students.
3- Reflect: A wonderful teaching tool that is often overlooked is reflection. This tool is done throughout student teaching and I use it daily in my own practices. What went right? Why? What would I change? Why? Students can use this to push themselves forward as learners as well. We often do this with writing and have students discuss their writing with peers, but reflection can be done across curriculum. Have students look at their own tests and projects. What went well? What are they proud of? Why? What do they need more time to strengthen? This must be modeled and practiced. The end of the semester offers the perfect time to reflect. What have students done well? What do they still want to know or learn about? What are they going to do differently next semester? Why? Take a break after learning to help your students reflect.
The end of the first semester is a whirlwind. Tests and projects, holiday stress and excitement, weather changes and the hype that has been gearing up since Halloween all work together to pull students attention away from learning. There are simple things that can be done to break this spell though. Take a break and focus, play and reflect in your classroom. You will find a balance for the stress and give your students a gift of balance. Merry Christmas!