It is half way through Term 3 and teachers and students alike are beginning to look tired. It is that time of year when routines are well and truly established, the classes are no longer new, yet the end of the year seems very far away. Despite the talk of Term 3 being the ‘easiest’ term, it can also be the most difficult, as the excitement of the new year has worn off and the tiredness begins to set in. I am trying some new approaches, though, to make sure that my Term 3 is as good as it can be, for both me and my students.
1. Choose a new teaching strategy to try
There is always a new strategy to try, whether it is one created by by person teaching up the corridor to one trialled by someone on the other side of the world. And Term 3 is a brilliant time to try it. You have already built a relationship with your students, you know where all the resources are and you know exactly where the planning and curriculum is headed. Choose a unit of study, and try something new! Want to trial Project Based Learning? Add it into your Inquiry planner! Want to experiment with reciprocal reading or book clubs? Try it in your reading sessions! It is a great way to challenge yourself and your students and stop monotony in its tracks.
2. Choose a new tool to use
With so many amazing new educational tools being developed, there is never enough time to try them all. Choose one that you have been meaning to use for a while and finally give it a chance in your classroom. Trial creating a class site or blog. Start using ClassDojo. Experiment with exit tickets using Socrative. Ask your students for feedback on the tool. If they love it, keep it. If they don’t, talk about why they don’t like it, how it can be improved, or better alternatives. Even if it is not right for this class, it may be perfect for another grade. If you’re feeling enthusiastic, share your new knowledge of the tool with colleagues or online. Other teachers always appreciate knowing the pros and cons of a new teaching tool! Especially as no single person will ever be able to try them all themselves.
3. Talk to someone new
Despite good intentions at the beginning of the year, people tend to always talk to the same people. While it is fantastic to develop friendships, it is also good to branch out and learn and share with people you would not normally talk to. Even if you teach Grade 1 and normally talk to other teachers in the Junior School, go and chat with someone who teaches Year 6. Learn what the success and challenges or other year levels are and how you can help. You may have a struggling year 5 student who can go to help in a grade 2 class, where they can learn the concepts while taking on a leadership role. You may find resources that you otherwise would never think of. Even if you do not, it is a great way of creating a community across all levels of a school.
4. Shake up the timetable
By this stage of the year you are probably finding that you teach the same subjects at the same times on the same days. While this does lead to stability, if not carefully managed it can also lead to boredom. Shake things up across the rest of the year. Combine some maths lessons and plan a huge maths challenge! Have an inquiry/humanities day and transform your classroom into something that matches with your unit (a courtroom, or an ancient civilisation, or a science lab!). Alternatively you could add in a new program, like Thursday Thinkers, to challenge your students’ learning and keep their thinking skills sharp.
5. Change the layout
Once the classroom layout is established, it very rarely changes. Sure, some work comes down and other work goes up, but that is about it. Changing just a couple of things about the class layout can make a huge difference to teacher and student enthusiasm. It is just like when you change the sheets on your bed, or add a new plant to a garden – small changes, but they change the way you see the entire space. If you want a big change, re-arrange all of the furniture in the room. Change the focus point, create many focus points, or create different areas for students with different learning needs. If you want a smaller change, play around with creating new borders, or new spaces to display student work so that it can be changed more regularly. Get rid of the posters that the students don’t use and replace them with ones that they like. Even one of these things can improve the space for student learning and engagement.
A few small changes can make a big difference to your attitude and the attitude of your students towards the rest of the year. Rather than counting down until the summer break, change things up so you can’t wait to arrive to work each day. Not only is it better for you, it is also better for your students.
How have you conquered boredom in your classroom?