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How Teachers can Motivate Students in the Spring

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Spring is a season of renewal as well the beginning of the countdown to summer break, which can leave both students and teachers struggling to stay motivated. Here are some ways to boost motivation, prevent burnout, and enjoy the remaining weeks in the classroom.

Refresh Student Expectations

The American Psychology Association (APA) encourages teachers to set high expectations for all students throughout the school year. APA principles address common concerns about inaccurate teacher expectations, which can become ''self-fulfilling prophecies.''

Use spring as a time to refresh your students' expectations. Let go of assumptions based on previous performance by encouraging students to forget about the year's challenges and finish strong.

Embrace New Beginnings

A recent teacher education and development study indicates that student motivation and teacher motivation are closely linked. Therefore, when teachers increase student engagement and support in their classrooms, their own sense of engagement and support also increases.

Small chalkboard with sketch depicting a balance between new and old

Leverage the renewing energy of springtime and treat the last few months as a brand new mini school year. Give the remaining weeks an ''emerging'' theme, where you discuss new technology, upcoming sociopolitical events, or future career possibilities, depending on the grade level. Brainstorm how current and future changes may impact daily life, and allow students to come up with persuasive writing topics based on the discussion.

Play Catch-Up

Teachers always think, ''I could have done better; I could have taught more.'' Proactively tackle end-of-the-year teacher guilt by prioritizing what you'll likely regret the most. Think about all of the lessons that you didn't have time to teach and all of the fun experiments that stayed on the back burner. You probably won't be able to cram everything in, so focus on the most exciting topics and lessons that will provide the most rounded educational experiences.

Add Some Fun

Tests are over, the weather is improving, and students are getting antsy for summer, so why not take advantage of the season by adding a bit of fun to your daily lesson plans? To start, consider your own interests and use them as inspiration for creative learning activities.

Spring sunflowers and smiley faces painted on student

For example, if you're a baseball fan, move desks and tables to the sides of the room and create a class baseball game tournament (using paper balls and rulers, not real sports equipment). Incorporate basic math, statistics, and physics lessons, or have students practice journalism by writing articles about the event. You could even create a class newspaper as a fun keepsake and lesson takeaway. If you teach a second language, such as Spanish, have students speak in that language during the whole game.

Prepare for Summer Break

According to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, students regress in math by about 2.6 months over summer vacation. To help combat learning loss, show students how their classroom knowledge applies to daily life. For example, motivate students to explore nature and identify different plant species, or play brain games that seem more like fun than education. Provide access to online courses for students who enjoy learning continuously and encourage parents to organize an hour or two of summer study time each day.

Show students how they can enjoy summer vacation and learn at the same time. Focus on fundamental concepts that will help students start the next school year off more smoothly. You might even chat with teachers at the next grade level to give students a preview of what's to come. Give students a list of books they should read for the upcoming year, experiments they can try at home, and puzzles to solve. Planting some seeds of anticipation can get students excited about returning to the classroom in autumn.

Leave Students with Lasting Memories

The school year can be hard on everyone, so try and end it on an up note. Leave your students something to remember by throwing a party, inviting an unexpected guest to the classroom, performing a humorous reenactment, or trying something out of the ordinary (but within school policies, of course).

Your students will accumulate knowledge as they make their way through every grade, but there's always a teacher or memory that sticks with them forever. Find a way to bring lasting motivation and support to uplift your students throughout their lives.

Spring flower gently placed in a fanned book

Cheer on Fellow Teachers

According to a Gallup survey, only 29% of teachers said that they received recognition for their work. Recognition boosts classroom motivation and helps teachers plow through challenges.

So, give your colleagues genuine compliments and elevate their hopes for their current and future students. For example, Study.com offers thousands of resources that help teachers maximize learning, so support your teachers by enrolling in our annual group plan!

By Rachael Pasini
March 2018
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