The beginning of a new school year is a heady time. Getting your room ready for your new class, preparing plans and goals for the year, and including what you’ve learned in professional development over the summer – you’re brimming with excitement. However, you know from experience that the mid-year slump is out there.
Depending on when your school year begins, the mid-year slump can happen anywhere from October to December. And once it happens, it can be hard to keep your class focused.
The Downside of Routine
Once the “new” has worn off the school year, and students and teachers have become accustomed to a daily routine, the seeds of a mid-year slump begin to be sown.
As the days begin to grow shorter and the weather starts to make a turn for the worse, it can be difficult to maintain enthusiasm. More recess periods are spent indoors. Lesson material becomes more challenging as new concepts are being taught. What seemed exciting back in August or September begins to appear overwhelming.
Knowing that the holidays are right around the corner adds an extra layer of challenge, too. How do you combat the apathy that comes with the mid-year slump?
Strategies to Rejuvenate Your Classroom
Whether you’re a first-year teacher or a seasoned educator, fighting the mid-year slump can feel like an uphill battle. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to shake up the routine without sacrificing learning.
- Change things up – Flip the order of your daily lesson plan. Rearrange classroom seating. Swap classes with another teacher for part of the day. Depending on the routine you established at the beginning of the year, making changes to the pattern of your days can help to regain student attention.
- Try something new – Changes in weather can mean fewer opportunities to get outside and burn off excess energy. Online programs like GoNoodle get kids moving while also teaching concepts.
- Break out the books – Mid-year is a great time to introduce a favorite book to the classroom. Reading aloud to your class can take some of the pressure off of academic performance. Students of all ages can benefit from a book read aloud.
- Collaborate with your class – Giving your students some say in what they study or how they study it can be remarkably effective in breaking the boredom.
- Stop, drop, and think – A daily quote written on the board when students enter your classroom can give them a little food for thought. Ask your students to spend a few minutes considering the daily quote and have a short discussion about it. This exercise can get students thinking and encourage them to express opinions – which can be a gold mine for discussion-style classes.
Combatting the Mid-Year Slump with PBIS
The mid-year slump is a prime time to lose your grip on your PBIS program, too. If allowed to take over, it can wreak havoc on school climate and cause you to lose every gain you’ve made since the first of the year.
When you’re struggling with boredom, apathy, and anxiousness among your students, it can be difficult to stay the course in a PBIS program. It may be tempting to abandon the program altogether, but before you do, try these strategies:
- Restate goals – Remind students that the goals you set for the school at the beginning of the year are still valid.
- Reteach expectations– Sometimes students just need a reminder of expectations. Deliberately and openly acknowledging positive behavior and awarding points will drive this point home.
- Bring in new rewards – Boost interest in your PBIS program by introducing new items and privileges in the school store. Check out this list of over 200 PBIS incentive ideas.
- Encourage accountability – Giving students the ability to check their point totals will help them to take ownership of the program. The PBIS Rewards Student App is perfect for this.
- Involve parents – Parent support of your school and its PBIS program is important. This is a great time to suggest the PBIS Rewards Parent App.
As the school year marches on toward the holidays, the effects of the mid-year slump can grow more pronounced. By the time winter break arrives, students and teachers alike are ready for a little time off. But shaking up classroom routines can help hold attention until that time arrives.
Breaking through the mid-year slump is possible. Your PBIS program can help you to begin the second half of the year with renewed anticipation!