Let’s Make The School Year More Like Summer

 

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Happy summer!  When I see parents, teachers, and kids over the summer they have a certain happy glow about them.  The weather is warmer, the days are longer, the summer is about having fun and enjoying some rest and relaxation.  Why can’t we maintain that positive attitude all year?  There is no need to sink into a depression at the end of August! Here are some ways to keep the school year feeling more like summer, even when the weather changes.

 

1. Summer is fun, school can be fun too!

Don’t smile until Christmas is so old school and doesn’t actually work. Teachers can make learning fun and exciting for kids by taking some tips from our favorite summer activities. Keep things active, don’t be afraid to be silly, don’t be afraid to get messy.  As an adult learner, I know that my favorite professional development activities have been ones where I’m laughing and feeling good about my practice. Take a tip from Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like A Pirate. His book is full of “hooks” and other activities to mix it up and make sure to always keep the kids on their toes.

2. Summer is about exploration and wonder.  Hmmmmm.

In the summer kids get to choose, follow as they wonder, and explore things that actually interest them.  When I talk to my own kids about their day at camp, they talk about the new things they tried that they have never done before. They aren’t afraid to take risks when they are out of the classroom. They are more likely to go for it without worrying about how it will look to others. As teachers, we should be working hard to create that kind of attitude in our classrooms. Let’s celebrate when kids put themselves out there, regardless of the outcome, because those experiences lead to the kind of learning that will last.

3. Parents are not on their kids’ case in the summer.

That’s not really fair.  They aren’t on their kids’ case because there is no tedious homework to do. We can change that by making sure homework is actually meaningful and has value. Not just a never ending stream worksheets for “practice”.  With all of the technology that we have at our disposal, it’s easy for teachers to flip lessons and offer blended learning opportunities. Instead of lecturing to our students, how about having them get that information by watching a video for homework? Then, they can apply, connect, and check for understanding through active learning opportunities in the classroom.

4. Don’t stress and De-stress.

There’s plenty of activity going on over the summer. Some of the activities the kids participate in are even dangerous (bike riding, skate boarding, climbing, boating, etc.) and yet the kids are not stressed.  Let’s make our classrooms areas of high risk activity (learning), without the stress. The kids will take their cues from the adults around them. I am definitely guilty of this. “Summer mom” is definitely more laid back than “School year mom”! This fall I’m going to try to let my students and my own children know that it’s important to keep our stress in check. Stretching, yoga, and breathing exercises are good for everyone and it can be a wonderful habit to begin with your students. Love the sound of the waves? Why not listen to wave sounds all year round? Sometimes we just need to laugh, get creative, run around, or get some fresh air to let off some steam.

5. Eat outside.

Ok, I live near Chicago so that’s not really going to work.  The point is, change your venue once in a while.  When my family eats outside in the summer it is such a wonderful treat. Find ways to get out of your classroom and let’s get the kids learning in many different environments.  If you are fortunate enough to have nice weather for many months, take advantage of the outdoor spaces that you have.  If the weather makes it challenging to be outside, find other areas of the building where you can have your students creating and collaborating. The connections in their brains will thank you.
photo credit: Escape via photopin (license)

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