Even the most dedicated teacher can fall into a slump from time to time. Certain times of the year—a long winter, the days before an extended holiday, or even the last few weeks before the end of the year—seem to be easy times for anyone to find the daily grind of teaching stresses tedious. When you are aware that this is happening to you, it’s time to take action to make sure that your students learn the material that they need to learn and that you can have the productive classroom environment that you want for your students and for yourself. In the following list, you will find thirty simple ways to replace the negative feelings induced by a teaching slump with the positive energy that can help your students enjoy school as they learn to be successful students.
1. Spend your energy on large problems first and allot less of your energy for the small ones. Choose to deal with the problems that will give you the greatest benefit right away.
2. Make it your goal that every student will leave your class with a positive attitude every day.
3. Keep things in perspective. Ask yourself if the problems you have today will be important next year.
4. Change the pace. Try three new activities this week.
5. Increase the ways that you ask students to respond nonverbally. Instead of shouting from their seats, they can hold up cards or give a thumbs up sign.
6. Plan to ignore the small stuff.
7. When a task seems impossible, remind yourself of the teachers who made a difference in your life. You can do the same for your students.
8. Empower your students by designing assignments that allow for limited student options. Give them innocuous choices such as the even or odd problems, essay topics, group tasks, or the best day to take a test.
9. You probably need to model more for your students. Most teachers do. And don’t forget to show them what you don’t want them to do, also.
10. Ask students to justify their answers on a test to encourage deeper thinking.
11. Let your students know what activities lie ahead of them so that they have something to look forward to. Try a little countdown to an exciting event to focus them on the positive.
12. Encourage independence! Tell your students that they must “See three before me” to find answers to questions.
13. At the end of a lesson, encourage reflection (and positive attitudes) by asking students to tell you what went well during class.
14. Build in wiggle breaks. Even older students need a break now and then.
15. When students are engaged in learning new material, periodically ask them to stop and write about these three topics: what they think about the subject so far, what they understand about the subject, and any questions they still may have.
16. Don’t work against the nature of your students. Make the material compelling by incorporating their interests and goals.
17. Put some color in your classroom world. Break out the crayons or highlighters to help students pay attention to what’s important in their notes.
18. Paraphrasing is a helpful gateway to other skills. Put students in pairs and ask them to paraphrase material. Then that pair can share their paraphrase with another pair.
19. Avoid problems when students finish work early by having other activities for them to complete. Students with nothing to do will amuse themselves by annoying nearby adults.
20. Increase the frequency of the positive recognition you give students.
21. Display student work. Rewarding students in this way is worth the time it takes to arrange it.
22. Pose a question of the week that is related to the material you are studying but that students need to research independently. Reward the student with the best answer with a little tangible reward.
23. Set a concrete goal with your students: 100% on every quiz, everyone on time for a week, all homework complete... Use a bar graph to illustrate their progress.
24. Graphic organizers are wonderful ways to engage students. Busy students are happy students and happy students make happy teachers.
25. Use a variety of media to capture your audience--movies, art, wikis, songs, podcasts, television, interactive game sites, magazines, advertisements, cartoons, and slogans are just a few of the ways that you can capture attention.
26. When they ask, “Why do we have to do this?” be sure to have an excellent answer ready.
27. Use your student’s competitive instincts to your advantage. Create teams to compete against other teams. Best of all, challenge your students to compete against themselves by working to improve their own best performance.
28. Work with your students to set personal long- and short-term goals for themselves. They will work harder with a clear focus for their work.
29. Take photographs of your students. Be thrifty and print them out on paper. Your students just want to see themselves on the classroom wall.
30. Schedule in some fun every day--for you and for your students. Smile together and misbehavior will decrease.