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Keeping Motivation High in the Springtime

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As the spring allergy-filled season rolls around, both students and teachers can often experience a sense of burnout. For many of our students, the school year can finally take its toll, leading to decreased motivation and enthusiasm in the classroom. However, this is also a great time to mix up our teaching approach and inject new energy into their lessons. In this blog, we will explore the concept of burnout, discuss its impact on students and teachers, and provide five tips for differentiating learning and maintaining morale and motivation during the final months of the school year.

Understanding Burnout

Burnout, a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress, can affect both students and teachers. Burnout is real! Students may feel overwhelmed by the demands of academic work, extracurricular activities, and social pressures. Teachers may experience burnout due to never-ending grading and lesson planning, teacher meetings, and the pressure to meet educational standards and high test scores. Recognizing the signs of burnout is the first step towards addressing it and surviving these last few months of school. If you’re looking for more information on burnout prevention and treatment, check out this article: Burnout Prevention and Treatment

Burnout hit me last week, right before Spring Break. I lacked enthusiasm for what I was teaching, which then transferred to the students. I saw their lack of participation, which is a good indicator for me of the engagement level. On the second day of pushing through my lesson, I realized that I needed to try something different for the last few days before Spring Break. I’ve done this many times before, but I had to go back to the drawing board to redesign my lessons. So out went the interactive Google Slides lessons planned and in came a Gallery Walk for the 1950s for my US History classes and a group activity on psychiatric disorders for my Psychology classes! By mixing it up for the rest of the week, I avoided the monotony the week was bringing.

Here are 5 other tips to help avoid Spring burnout:

Tip #1: Embrace Differentiated Learning: Differentiated learning is an effective strategy for catering to diverse student needs and interests. By offering a variety of learning options, teachers can engage students on multiple levels and foster a sense of autonomy in their education. Here are a few ideas for incorporating differentiation in the classroom:

Tip #2: Get them moving! Assigning hands-on projects that allow students to explore topics of interest and apply their knowledge in real-world contexts can reignite their enthusiasm for learning. Encourage creativity and collaboration, and provide opportunities for students to showcase their work to their peers and the wider community. Gallery Walks are an excellent way to get students up and moving while still learning! Chunking information into 6-8 different parts can ensure that students learn information while they move around the room. Another tip: make two sets of information. This way, you can post all of the stations in both halves of the classroom, which will ensure traffic flow around the room stays manageable. Here are some examples of effective Gallery Walks:

Tip 3 Gamify Learning: Introduce gamification elements into your lessons to make them more engaging and interactive. Incorporate game-based activities, such as quizzes, simulations, or scavenger hunts, that allow students to apply their knowledge in a fun and competitive manner. Gamification can foster healthy competition, boost motivation, and make learning enjoyable. Simulations are also a good way to have fun while teaching! Here are some examples:

Tip 4 Flexible Grouping:
Instead of solely relying on traditional whole-class instruction, implement flexible grouping strategies. Allow students to work in pairs, small groups, or individually based on their learning needs and preferences. This approach fosters collaboration, enhances communication skills, and encourages peer learning.

Tip 5 Prioritize Well-being and Mindfulness: Introduce mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing, guided meditation, or short mindfulness breaks, into your daily routine. These practices can help students and teachers reduce stress, improve focus, and cultivate a positive mindset. Consider using mindfulness apps or inviting experts to conduct mindfulness workshops. 

Here are four ways to incorporate mindfulness into your classroom:

The springtime burnout experienced by students and teachers can be effectively addressed by implementing strategies to differentiate learning and maintain motivation. By embracing differentiated learning, infusing novelty and variety, and prioritizing well-being and mindfulness, high school teachers can revitalize the learning environment and create a positive and engaging atmosphere for the final months of the school year. Remember, small changes can make a big difference!

Until next month!