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Overcoming The Spring Slump
By ISJL Education Fellow Harrison Bleiberg
The Spring Slump. The March Meltdown. Summer Fever.
Whatever you call it, the decrease in student focus in springtime can throw off even the most seasoned teacher. Here are five ways to revitalize up your classroom and keep things shaking in Spring!
Have class outside.
Who wants to be inside on a beautiful spring day? As the temperatures rise and the sun comes out, consider having class outside! Enrich your lesson with active, kinesthetic activities to take full advantage of the beautiful weather outside! Consider using a handheld whiteboard, incorporating thematic relay races, or planning a sprawling scavenger hunt. Don’t forget to think through your setup as thoroughly as you would your classroom. For more ideas on ways to take your learning outside, contact your Fellow!
Switch up your teaching space.
Is it raining, cold, or otherwise unpleasant outside? Shake up your routine by switching up your space indoors! Whether that means moving to a different room, moving around chairs, or walking around your religious school; moving environments can breathe new life and excitement into your regular lessons. Be sure and switch up activities based on the rooms. Moving to a bigger room? Spread out and have large, dynamic activities. Moving to a smaller room? Have intimate, insightful discussions on the material.
Shake up your lesson structure.
Whether it’s regular attendance taking, a weekly writing prompt, or a topical song, even the most experienced teachers eventually fall into a routine. Identify your own teaching habits, and experiment with a different lesson structure. Do your lesson backward, take attendance with a game, or have a rapping prompt; this will keep students engaged and on their toes!
Invite some fresh faces into the classroom.
Even the most engaged, enthusiastic teachers can get burned out sometimes. Give yourself a break and refresh your classroom with a new face! Invite a speaker from your community or a parent to teach a lesson or speak about a topic in which they are knowledgeable. This method is a great way to get other members of your community involved in the religious school and practice guest etiquette in the classroom. Invite members of your clergy, a parent with a unique occupation, or an excited volunteer to bring some fresh energy into your classroom!
Let the students step up.
One of the best moments in teaching comes from seeing your students succeed. Incorporate student presentations or other opportunities for student leadership into your lessons to give students experience in being a leader as well as a follower. Presentations can include singing a song, sharing research on Jewish practice in different parts of the world, or even allowing them to teach part of the lesson by reading off instructions from our fully-scripted curriculum spirals (read more about student teaching here).