For many teachers, the last few weeks of school is a strange time. Students are restlessly awaiting that final bell to mark the beginning of summer, and you know there’s little point overloading with new curriculum. For some, it’s a waiting game. For others, it’s a scramble to the finish line. Either way, the homestretch should always be a time to wind down, take in the school year, get to know your students, and bring some fun and laughter to the table.
1. Stop Talking!
Regardless of what you’re familiar with, the last few weeks of school is no time for lecture-based instruction. Embrace it as a chance to let your guard down and explore the role of “guide on the side”, elevating student voice and choice, and giving them more control over their learning. Tip: Try the flipped classroom model for one or two lessons as a way to create a student-centered learning environment.
2. Start a Project
With curriculum boxes ticked, and state pressures set aside, project-based learning can finally reveal its full potential. Allowing students to collaborate and embark on a project of their choosing, you can watch the ideas fly, and the creativity spread as their 21st century skills are put to the test. Tip: Start by exploring the basics of PBL and the five core elements that make it a success.
3. Experiment with Technology
With less time constraints and strict schedules, it’s the ideal time to explore the tools you didn’t get the chance to during the school year. Bringing new apps and devices into the classroom and exploring the many trends out there, you can find out what works for you while bringing IT skills to the fore. Tip: Begin with a student-friendly tool like Fishtree that’s easy to integrate and facilitates flipped, mobile and blended learning.
4. Get Reflective
The last few weeks of school is the perfect time for reflection. Use this time to reflect on the school year and to ask questions like “Are my students satisfied?”… “Am I satisfied?”… “What would I do differently?” Once you find the answers, spend time over the summer figuring out how to implement the changes you want to see. Tip: Involve the students in your plans by finding out what they liked and disliked most about the year.
Teaching is an extremely demanding job and one that offers little time for TLC. The end of the school year presents a great opportunity to wind down after a stressful term, to take it all in, and to join in the excitement of the students. Don’t be afraid to show your lighter side during this time and have fun with your classes. Tip: Take the classroom outside with the help of BYOD to provide a refreshing alternative to the norm.
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About the author:
Lorna Keane specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.