Thirsty for a Strong Instructional Practice?
It’s week 12 of the semester and everyone is tired. Students feel mounting pressure from end-of-semester projects and exams. Students whose coursework requires time in schools or the community are pushing to finish those hours. End-of-semester school pressures can make it difficult for students to make shifts at their jobs. Faculty are entrenched in preparing presentations, submitting journal articles, engaging in community collaborations, and completing committee work in addition to grading, advising, and teaching. Both groups feel the weight of family and other outside responsibilities. ‘Tis the season for waning motivation and mounting stress.
Take a SIP of This: More Motivation, Less Stress
- Think Macro. Review the course goals. Help students synthesize the knowledge and skills they have learned in your class so they can feel a sense of accomplishment. Lay out the plan for reaching the final goals for the semester so that students have a clear and concrete understanding of what the rest of the course entails.
- Get out. Leave the classroom for an on-campus field trip or to use the library. Any type of movement increases respiration, blood flow, and lifts mood.
- Play tunes. Find an appropriate music channel to play as students enter class or to play in the background during group work. Reggae is a good combination of a nice beat, low tones, and wide universal appeal.
- Party on! If there was ever a time for a potluck or chocolate party, this would be it!
- Playtime. Many subjects lend themselves to using games to introduce content or for review. Find links for customizable jeopardy, crossword, quiz, trivial pursuit, and bingo games below. Better yet, have students create the games in groups outside of class. Groups can trade games to play in class.
- Encourage efficiency. The day is not going to get longer, so talk to students about how to optimize their time. Use the nooks-and-crannies of the day by reading a chapter on the bus or getting half of an assignment finished while waiting to pick up a child from their activity.
- Get organized. Time spent on organization can help us feel more control over our lives and is a good investment.
- Perfect is overrated. While we want students to achieve, we don’t want them to compromise their health in a quest for perfection. Encourage students to acknowledge the costs of anxiety related to perfectionism.
- Worst goes first. Help students get started on potentially overwhelming tasks before others so that they don’t grow into something that feels intimidating. Give students a few minutes of class time to begin a large assignment, make a plan for getting it done, and ask clarifying questions.
- Help chunk. Give students suggestions for breaking large assignments into smaller pieces and timelines for completing them.
- Practice mindfulness. Taking five minutes to relax can go a long way toward reducing stress and anxiety. Breathing, stretching, and being present in the moment are all beneficial. Find links to apps that facilitate mindfulness below.
- Peel off energy suckers. We have a finite amount of energy in a day. Some people and activities suck our energy, other people and activities renew our energy. Consider possibilities for limiting exposure to those people and activities that push us into an energy deficit.
- Call students by name. Let students know that they are important by using their names or talking to them informally during downtime. A brief one-on-one encounter can go a long way toward making a student feel significant and engaged.
- Provide choices. All students, but particularly adult learners, appreciate having control over their learning. These last few weeks are a great time to provide students with choices in their learning or assessments.
Still Thirsty? Take another SIP of More Motivation, Less Stress