Last Thursday marked the official first day of spring. The days have become long and beautiful with sunlight stretching past seven o’clock and gardens in full bloom. Warm weather beckons us outside, and a long line of cars stretches down Highway 17 as people make their way to the Santa Cruz beaches. Summer break is just moments away!
At Rocketship, we are now entering the longest data cycle of the year- a pivotal time for academic and social growth, but also a time that can feel like the Never Ending Story as adults and children alike become antsy for summer vacation. This can be one of the more difficult times to maintain that college-bound momentum and excitement.
May I present to you three ideas to keep the energy and enthusiasm alive as we finish the year strong.
1. Bring the outside in.
After seven months together, your students may be getting a little too used to hearing your voice. This is a great time to bring in guest speakers or presentations, so round up your non-educator friends or call local organizations to see if they will come for a visit.
My first graders were star-struck the day that the fire department visited our class to go along with our Community Helpers unit. If your budget for field trips is gone, you can make a video of yourself at a local place of interest to show to the class.
2. Put those character traits to work.
You have laid a strong foundation for your students, teaching them content standards and the social skills needed to work safely and productively in groups. Inquiry projects and project-based learning are an excellent opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways.
Having choice around their projects motivates students and refreshes the culture of the classroom. One of my favorite classroom memories is of a group of students huddled around their model of the ocean habitat, consulting non-fiction books to make their re-creations as authentic as possible.
3. Leverage your peers.
Schools are overflowing with talent! Use your grade-level team to plan an elective block, drawing upon the interests and hobbies of your team. Another option is to bring two classes together and co-teach a lesson. The change in environment keeps the kids on their toes, and it is lots of fun to have another adult in the room to share all of the funny and unexpected things that the students say.
These are just three quick ideas to ensure spring semester will be enjoyable and productive, but there are many more out there. The spring is an incredible time of year to reflect on the growth that both you and your students have made. Its also a time to celebrate how far you have come.
Now that your students know your expectations and routines, keep the pacing quick and the joy factor high to keep kids coming back every single day-from now to June-excited to learn.
Katherine is an Assistant Principal at Los Sueños Academy. She grew up in the Bay Area and then attended college at Wake Forest University where she studied history and Spanish. After graduation, Katherine taught first grade for three years in Alum Rock School District in San Jose, and then taught first grade for 2 more years at Los Sueños. When she’s not at school, she likes to cook, read, and spend lots of time outside.