contributed by Corinne Jacob
Summer has ended and to quote a too-popular show, winter is coming! The groans you will hear from the students are almost as loud as the more subtle groans of the teachers. The end of summer is always seen as a tragic end to freedom and fun. Like on Mondays, when the whole long week seems to loom threateningly in front of you, new school years fill you with the same sort of dread. The good news is that dread, it’s only based on imagined outcomes.
It is true that your classroom feeds off your energy. You are handed a classroom full of students who are excited to be back but not so enthusiastic to study. You can even use their summer slide to your advantage and bring back the joy of learning. It isn’t as monumental a task as it seems.
Watch this pep talk and then we can begin!
6 Ideas For Easing Students Back to School
1. Reboot your teaching techniques
The new school year presents you with an unbelievable opportunity to start afresh. This means that you can spend quality time with yourself, reflecting on the things that went well in the past year and the things you can revise and make better. It’s always a good idea to find out who is in your class and to start personalized learning. Introduce technology into your classroom, use more visual aid. Make your lessons more practical. It’s a good time to create goals for yourself that promote student-centric learning.
2. Looks matter
No matter what the age of your students, we are all visual creatures. Coming back to a class that is drab and grey can put most people off the idea of learning. Make their return a thing to celebrate. Throw a welcome back party. Open up the windows. Add some color to the room. Create student boards they want to be featured on. There are literally are a million things you could do depending on how much time and access you have to resources.
3. Use Pinterest
Everyone who knows me knows about my deep obsession with Pinterest and so I’m not going to wax ad nauseum about the genius place that it is. Instead, I’m going to point you in the direction of 25 Ways To Use Pinterest According To Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. An amazing way to curate the journey of your class during the school year is to create your own Pinterest board with different boards for different subjects – for ideas, for projects to take up, for goals and free lessons, etc. Depending on how well you audit these boards, Pinterest can become your virtual resources binder.
4. Rewind & Recap
There is no point in starting your lessons if your students are going to see stars anyway. Use the first week to ease them back into the processes of your classroom by exciting them. Time is of the essence, but there is no debating the importance of a good foundation. Remember how you hated Math when the concepts the teacher taught you went over your head? Do you think you would have understood better if you were more comfortable–not just engaged, but at ease in the classroom?
One idea? Create an elaborate game of hangman: Divide the class into teams and divide lessons amongst them. Each group will have to think up words for the other groups to guess. Once the word has been guessed correctly, the group can explain what the term/concept means.
5. Use Video Games
Also consider teaching with video games. You will see that gamification and the use of new age media in education can be a powerful tool to ease students back into the classroom. You may find students–especially those put off by a traditional classroom–completely at ease when dealing with video games and related technology. One example is this small town in Mexico that is unleashing a new generation of geniuses using the very simple concept of self-study and technology.
Let your students enjoy a couple of hours a week in the computer lab, engaging in online learning games, discovering things about a subject a textbook can’t teach you. After all, kids learn and retain these lessons better when they use it practically – even if all they have access to is a virtual lab.
6. Create A Simple Game Show
Host your own game show: I know pop quizzes are a universally hated concept but imagine you play it in the style of your favorite game show – Minute to Win It, Hollywood Squares, Family Feud, and one quiz show I recently discovered on my trip to England – Never Mind the Buzzcocks. If you are unable to pick the kind of quiz format you want to follow, you could always divide the class into teams and each group could pick a format and create their own quizzes around foundation topics that are important to know this year. Create fun rounds, each round carrying certain points. Add a buzzer to the mixture and you are all ready to go.
Take a deep breath, brew yourself some nice tea and sit back. The ideas in your head will take the shape of a concrete plan and going back to school will seem like a cinch this year. Whatever your plans for your class this year, know that you are going to be amazing and in being that, you’re going to let your class come into their own.
Corinne Jacob is a wannabe writer who is convinced that kids learn best when they’re having fun. She is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make learning an enjoyable experience. Corinne loves all things that scream out un-schooling, alternative education and holistic learning; image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad; Ideas For Easing Students Back to School