From the Magazine

Dear Lydia

Students struggle with the second semester just as badly as us teachers do. Between the excessive tardiness, lack of engagement, and “senioritis” (that, let’s be clear, affects all students, not just the seniors), I feel like it is pulling teeth to get anything done. How can I get everyone back on track with expectations, myself included?

Sincerely,

Ready for Summer

Dear Ready, 

Spring semester is tough! Spring break can’t get here soon enough and then it feels like summer is still so far away. The need to recalibrate expectations and behavior is a normal practice for life – Think of it like your regular doctor check-ups. Things start to slip and having that check-up can get us back on the right track. Let’s talk about what this check-up might look like for your students:

  1. Do an engaging activity. Capture students’ attention by using an experiential activity to get them up and moving, and the wheels in their minds turning. Try an activity like Towers or Think Outside the Box.
  2. Level set expectations. Debrief the activity to connect to what behaviors you expect in your classroom and from each other. Use examples that you saw during the activity (or perhaps where you saw them lacking). If you need a set of core expectations to help drive the behavior of your students, check out our Foundational Principles. These timeless principles can be used to create a classroom culture where both teacher and students benefit.
  3. Incentivize. We all know that incentives matter, and there is no time quite like second semester to reinforce those behaviors we expect with incentives. Use our Empowered currency to reward the actions you’d like to see more of, like arriving to class on time, having materials ready, collaboration, and more. You can also use the currency to recognize when students are demonstrating the Foundational Principles. It’s important to remember that this currency is only meaningful if you are consistent with it AND create opportunities for it to be exchanged for items that your students would value. Consider hosting regular auctions for students to bid their currency to win. Keep subjective value in mind as you select items to auction off – what would your students see as a true incentive to guide their behavior, even in the restless spring semester. 

The most important thing to remember is being clear and consistent with your expectations and how you hold students accountable to them. Stay focused on the handful of items that create the greatest impact; this will make it more manageable for you and your students. Repeat these steps as often as needed to help push you through the end of the year.

Happy teaching. Stay Empowered.

Lydia

After years of teaching in the classroom, Lydia Hampton recognized her true calling was empowering teachers through curriculum design and professional development.