How to Keep Your Students Focused During the Holidays

Student sitting at a desk with a computer and notebook open in front of them, image used for Robert Peters educator blog on how to keep students focused during the holidays

The holidays can be a wonderful chance to indulge in festivities, cultural experiences and more, but it can be difficult to keep your students focused on learning with all this excitement and their anticipation of the holidays. Many times, students of all ages and grade-levels are starting to tune-out and look towards the coming holidays and having some time off of school. These feelings are totally natural; you’re probably looking forward to the holidays too.

It’s important to remember that your students are children and budding young-adults, not robots. By recognizing this fact, and accepting that you cannot change it, it becomes much easier to instead tailor your teaching and lessons to this development. Now, let’s talk about some ways you can use the holiday spirit to keep your students engaged, focused, and progressing in their educations.

Maintain classroom structure

Don’t throw your rules and established expectations out the window. You can’t expect your students to not be distracted during the holidays, but students thrive on stability. Everyone, yourself included, performs better when previously established norms are followed.

Continue to assign your regular weekly or bi-weekly assignments, have homework due at the normal dates, etc. Don’t abandon classroom structure you’ve established, use it! Keeping with the same routine can help students stay focused because they know what’s expected of them.

Tailor your lessons to the season

The easiest way to keep your students focused and working hard is to tailor your lessons to the holiday at hand. Don’t ignore the fact that Christmas is right around the corner, embrace it!

Regardless of your subject-matter, you can find a way to tie it into the season’s festivities into at least some lessons. Your students will appreciate the much-needed break from “hard content”, and the creativity these assignments usually employ. Try to incorporate some fun activities that are relevant to the holidays that the students will enjoy while also learning something new.

Keep your pace, don’t overwork

It’s important to continue teaching at your normal pace. Don’t suddenly pile on two-weeks worth of work and expect your students to actually do it over their winter break — it’s called a break for a reason. They’ll only be miserable before and after break and you’ll have to deal with this attitude.

Keep this idea in mind during the rest of the school year. Make sure you get through key chapters and lessons with enough time to spare so you’re not cramming before the holiday!

A final word on holidays

Remember that holidays are a special time in every culture. Embrace this, and use it as a break from the factory-like routine of schooling. Enhance your lesson plans, ask your students what their plans are and share yours, and remember – you deserve a break, too. Use this time to recharge and revitalize, the year isn’t over yet!

How to Keep Students Motivated During Winter

Blog post title image about keeping students motivated during winter.

Winter is a particularly difficult time to keep students motivated. After the holidays, the colder months of January and February set in and there’s no break in sight until sometime in spring. It’s hard to get students to focus at this time of year, especially when trying to prepare them for state tests and finals in their classes. Instead of stressing out over your students’ lack of desire to learn, try these tips to keep them motivated in the upcoming months!

Remain Positive

Even though you may not feel like coming into work every day, it’s important that you remain upbeat for the students who you’ll be teaching. Show them a positive attitude and act excited about what you’re talking about, but you can also acknowledge that you know it’s a tough time of year to focus on learning. Give them positive reinforcement when they do something well and try to make them feel good about their work.

Give Rewards

By occasionally rewarding your students, you’ll motivate them to continue working and doing a good job in their studies. Maybe offer candy or a small prize for reaching certain goals. You can also give them a movie day or a specific amount of time where they can talk and hang out instead of focusing on an actual lesson. Rewarding students gives them a much-needed break.

Watch Films

Students find it much easier to spend time looking at a screen and visually absorbing information instead of having to listen to their teacher lecture. Most children can recount endless amounts of information and quotes from their favorite movies or television shows, so you know those skills are developed. Incorporate educational documentaries into your lessons and students will learn more and feel more at ease. Tailoring your lesson plans to the season will help you combat the lack of motivation in students.

Let Them Decide

When students have the opportunity to be hands-on with their own learning, they’ll be more invested in the subject. You can give students a list of topics that need to be covered during the next few weeks and let them choose in which order they want to learn about them. Provide opportunities for them to be involved in their own learning – they’ll be thankful for it and more motivated.

Change it up!

Some variety is always a good thing because students’ brains will immediately recognize the change and register it. Switch around the desk arrangement or redecorate the classroom. Give students something different and they’ll feel as though it’s an entirely new experience, not the same class they’ve been in for the last few months. Providing students with variation will prevent them from feeling bored and helps them give their attention to your teaching.

Introverts in the Classroom

Most often, when we talk about trends in education, there is a big shift towards student centered learning. By this, we mean group projects, classroom discussions, and even seating arrangements that resemble little pods of students. Naturally, this shift has had positive reactions from students and teachers alike. The only group we fail to ask input from are the introverted students. This blog will explore introverts and what kind of education best serves them.

What is an introvert?

An introvert is someone who is extremely introspective, has a deliberate need for solitude, and is a more effective written communicator than conversational. Introverts also spend a fair amount of time reflecting on the world around them to sort out all the stimulation we face every day.

Solitude is extremely important to introverts. When introverted people are out in the world interacting with other, they become drained from overstimulation. Part of this is due to the consistent reflection and introspection that comes naturally to them. It can be exhaustive to work through every interaction, sound, and environment change. The retreat to solitude allows them to process the day and recharge. This last part is extremely important when it comes to a classroom setting.

Recent shifts

Recent trends in education have turned towards a much more extrovert focused system. You have heard buzzwords like, flipped classrooms, student centered learning, and project based learning, which all focus on group interaction and discussion. For an introvert, this can be extremely exhausting! Especially if every classroom moves towards this type of learning. For introverts, a six hour period of interaction and stimulation can be hard to process. We need to begin doing things to help out students escape this, even for a little while, to recharge and engage in the next lesson.

Here’s a few things we can work on:

Quiet spaces

Make a space or time within your classroom that is for quite, individualized learning. This could be a reading nook or just a dedicated area that enforces a strong “individual, quite learning only” policy. You may find introverted students heading here after a particularly noisy lesson or after a group project. They are going to recharge, process the day, and will be ready to tackle the next group activity in no time.

Think first, then answer

Create a classroom policy that is “think first, answer later.” This gives all students a time to reflect and come up with their own answers before someone else has the opportunity to shout out the first thought in their head. This not only helps introverts process, it also teaches the rest of the classroom how to apply deep learning techniques to even the simplest of tasks.