For most people, spring is characterized by blooming flowers, sunny skies and vacation planning. But for teachers, the beckon of summer also brings a dreaded phenomenon: spring fever.
Classified by antsy students, bad behavior and short attention spans, spring fever is a huge deterrent to end-of-year productivity. If you’ve experienced the effects of spring fever in your K–12 classroom before, it’s time to make this year different.
Here’s what you can do to stay on track and keep kids working until the very last day of school.
It can be hard to keep your students motivated when you’re feeling the pull of spring fever yourself. But as first grade teacher Jessica Meacham points out, maintaining enthusiasm is essential for keeping students engaged.
“It is essential that I show my energy and enthusiasm for every part of our day. If I lose my excitement and energy, students may lose theirs, too.”
To maintain such enthusiasm, TeacherPop recommends that teachers set aside time for their personal lives. Planning a summer trip or weekend getaway, for example, is a great way to create something to look forward to, making it easier to teach when the students get anxious for summer break.
Maintain an Enthusiasm for Learning
One way to keep things interesting in the classroom is to incorporate short, exciting video clips into the lesson. “The clips add dynamic visuals, new lab techniques, humor, and simply, a different voice to the lecture time,” high school chemistry teacher Allison Tarvin says.
Another way to diversify the format of your lesson plans is to incorporate music. Heather Wolpert-Gawron explains that songs can be used in English lessons to teach vocabulary, poetry literary analysis and more.
For teachers who want to encourage engagement through creativity, crafting a makerspace is an effective option. High School english teacher Nicholas Provenzano says that tinkering and making provide students with “the freedom to explore their interests without the structure of a classroom.”
Encourage Positive Behavior
To manage behavior issues associated with spring fever, Vicky Moore at Teaching and Much Moore says to try using a compliment chain. With this activity, students gets a link on the paper chain every time they say something nice to another student.
If the chain is completed, all the students get a reward, such as a party. This encourages kindness and respect in the classroom, and reminds children how to treat one another.
Melissa Rex, founder of Elementary School Counseling, says identifying and expressing feelings is another great way to help students understand their emotions and behavior.
When they understand why they feel a certain way, they’ll be less likely to misbehave.
Studies show that 20 minutes of aerobic exercise can be instrumental for improving focus. So when in doubt, it’s always beneficial to get your students moving. Allison Clark explains on the Educational Connections, Inc. blog that when students engage in activity before learning, they’re much more engaged in the task at hand.
Another idea for getting kids up and moving in the classroom is to use simple tools that can be found in the classroom. The What Moms Love blog outlines a ton of creative ideas for making exciting indoor games from tools like tape, toilet paper, plastic cups and more.
Plan Frequent Breaks
According to Hunter College psychology professor Tricia Striano, Ph.D., students should be given regular outside time as a reward for work done well. Rather than letting kids go outside when you can’t handle their impatience anymore, it’s much better to have outside time planned so the kids can look forward to it, she says.
To give students a break when they’re feeling fidgety but can’t go outside, try a creative brain break from Rachel Lynette at Minds in Bloom. These active games involve music and motion to get your kids out and about.
Take the Classroom Outside
Another way to keep your students engaged during the transition to warmer weather is to take learning outside.
As Victoria Wilcher of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) explains, conducting lessons outside is more memorable and engaging for students than sitting in the classroom.
On HoJo’s Teaching Adventure blog, Heather Fergen adds that this doesn’t have to involve extra planning or time. In fact, simply completing a worksheet on the playground and having a discussion in an outdoor circle are all easy ways to get students outside.
Engage with School Gardens
School gardens offer a wealth of learning opportunities in almost every subject. Cathy James, author of The Garden Classroom, says “the garden offers great opportunities to do practical math skills, like constructing bean frames, or dividing seeds between the number pots you have.”
For recipe lesson plans and hands on gardening lessons, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Program (ASAP) Growing Minds website has a number of gardening resources for students of all ages. Science NetLinks also offers lesson plans on how students can learn about seeds, plants and organism lifecycles through immersive learning activities.
Teach Weather and Climate Lessons
The outdoors can also be incorporated into lessons about weather and climate. On the Little Bins for Little Hands blog, Sarah McClelland suggests hands-on activities such as making your own thermometer, exploring light science with rainbows and learning about the water cycle from water bottles.
Create Routines and Reminders
Young students are easily distracted, especially as the weather gets warmer. That’s why Ann Dolin, president of Educational Connections, Inc., recommends motivating students with visual reminders about their daily routines. Creating a checklist or schedule of important daily duties and keeping that by the door, for example, can be a great reminder.
Start a New Daily Activity
Teacher and education author Julia G. Thompson says that starting a daily classroom tradition can be a great way to boost excitement among students. Present a fun or silly fact each day, or have a group talk each morning to keep students looking forward to the next day.
Use the Classroom Space
Teacher Rebecca Foxwell of the blog Foxwell Forest suggests engaging in activities that encourage more movement and get students to engage with one another inside the classroom in new ways. For example, all of Foxwell’s students pushed their chairs and desks to the edge of the classroom and learned the hundreds chart on a mass scale.
Whether it’s the first day of spring or the last week of school, these tips are sure to help you and your students beat spring fever.