Spring Back into School
The spring break passes oh so quickly and while simply turning up for Term 4 works for many, others can benefit from a bit of a pick-me-up to get going again.
My simple tips for parents to get students focussed again include the following:
Do a Marie Kondo for school
This is similar to what we used to call spring cleaning. Together with your child, empty their school bag and only put back in what is needed. Get the bag under 5kg and keep it that way, the return to school will be less burdensome with a lighter bag. If you are really keen delve into the pencil case, out with the old and broken and possibly in with one or two new items to bring on a smile. Above all remove any old food, the worst I have seen included 28 sandwiches in various stages of decay, a clear case of too much pocket money for the canteen.
For the brave, the part-two of decluttering involves the student device. I find it fascinating that today we are so adept at organising our photos when a good share of the laptops I look at have had little or no attention to organising. A small amount of time together on the device organising file storage can really prepare things for the term ahead, especially final exams. Regularly reviewing the contents of your child’s learning device is an essential and safe idea.
Review the Study / Homework Schedule
With Term 4 comes daylight savings and changes to seasonal sports. This is the right time to review the study and homework schedule to maximise time outdoors and doing healthy things preferably at the expense of screen time.
Renegotiate Breaks and Rewards
Affirmation of positive behaviour and modest rewards are highly effective supports for positive student outcomes. A new term gives the opportunity for a fresh start. Incentives don’t need to be expensive or over the top and can re-energise a flagging student.
It may be too late for this year but taking a little time off to be the driver to HSC exams can eliminate a whole bundle of stress. For most students it is half a dozen exams, often starting at a time outside their usual schedule.
What can teachers do to help students get focussed?
Review Student Profiles
Modern learning systems put a wealth of information at a teachers’ fingertips. After a break we can all forget a few things, no one is realistically expected to remember everything all the time but it is critical to review profiles and ensure learning activities are tailored to the individual learners.
Enthusiasm is infectious. If you are fully engaged with your teaching, the learners have a better chance of engaging too. This is a shorter term, with only eight weeks for some until the Christmas break. All the more reason to make the most of each lesson.
Establish Challenging Learning Goals
This one forms the AITSL teaching standard 3.1. The start of Term 4 is a good time to review learning goals for some of our students. Some will have come on in leaps and bounds and need a boost of some more challenging goals.
Make the Call
Making a call to a parent to tell them how well a student has been progressing lately can be a great motivator for even more effort. This is especially true if calls home are usually to resolve problems. A balanced approach to pastoral care where affirmation is stressed as much as correction can be highly effective.