It's February. You can tell just by walking through the halls and stepping into the classrooms. The students' noise levels have increased as have their forgetfulness to bring things to class and propensity to blurt things out. It's not all bad. Part of the February Blahs is due to the fact that students are more comfortable with us and with their peers. They've fallen into the routine of the school year, chugging along like a reliable steam engine.
The problem with steam engines is that sometimes they end up derailing. And yes, that's my classroom these days. Unfortunately, my knee-jerk reaction is to stop the presses and lecture to them about the importance of listening, achieving one's potential, and not succumbing to a primal version of their beautiful selves. It works, for about eight minutes.
That's why in recent years I've come up with another idea to turn the February Blahs into the February Hurrahs: an email a day keeps the problems at bay.
Basically, I am on the constant lookout for one of my students doing something good. It's not hard. In a span of 80+ minutes across two blocks, I've got loads to choose from. That afternoon, I spend three minutes writing home, sharing something great about that student. And while it doesn't totally fix all of the blah-ish issues, it does a world of good. Here's how:
- It gets me to focus on the positive instead of the negative.
- It allows me to notice those students who don't derail the class and continue to work hard each day. With this approach, they don't get lost in the mix.
- It enables me to reinforce the positive in some of the derailers when they do something good, thereby building on a moment of strength instead of highlighting a weakness.
- It provides positive feedback for parents who are so appreciative of receiving it.
- It only takes three minutes. Really, that's all.
- It puts positivity at the forefront of my mind each day. I often begin class thinking, alright, who's going to get that email today.
- When I end up focusing on positivity, it invariably sneaks into other parts of my life (colleagues, family, myself).
So with four weeks until Spring Break, consider trying this out. Who knows, your students might just stay on track better as a result.