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Education Opinion

Engage, Inspire, and Motivate Students to Finish Strong

By Lisa Dabbs — May 05, 2018 3 min read


I was so impressed with your last post The End of the School Year Crunch. Your tips on focus and planning are such good ones for new teachers working to finish strong as the school year is wrapping up.

In this same theme, I invited three friends of mine who are a teacher, tech coach and assistant principal to share thoughts from their experience that could inspire new teachers to finish the school year feeling encouraged and invigorated. Check out their ideas below!

New Teachers! You’re almost there! You can see the finish line of the school year in the not so far distance. Sure, the students are tired and their energy is waning, but how you finish the school year is just as important as how you start it. Students catch our vibe--and our vibe should be that the end of the year is a time for the celebration of continued learning. Keeping students engaged, inspired and motivated can be tough, but so worth it! Here are some ways you can keep your students growing and learning:

  1. Student-driven learning. Using project-based learning, genius hour, and learning stations with student presentations are great ways to demonstrate proficiency--and have fun doing it. Giving student choice is the best strategy to ensure engagement.
  2. Reinforce and reteach important concepts with a new twist. Create non-evaluative activities that bolster up student proficiency in areas of need. It’s a win-win. Gamify a learning activity and watch the energy in your room instantly go up. Kahoot or Quizlet Live are two ways to bolster the camaraderie and healthy competition in a 1:1 classroom. Have you tried a Digital Breakout EDU? Here is a list of everything you’ll need to create your own, or you can have a group of students do the heavy lifting and create the game! Students gain mastery without grades, you keep them learning.
  3. Make connections with other schools and students. Try using FlipGrid or PenPalSchool to establish virtual pen pals from all over the world. Microsoft Education provides resources on five exciting ways to bring the world into your classroom: virtual field trips, Skype lessons, Skype collaborations, Mystery Skypes, and guest speakers. Students love connecting with other students!
  4. Focus on feedback intentionally! Give one on one feedback to students through Google Classroom or your LMS. Instead of focusing on a grade see what happens when the feedback becomes a conversation. Make an effort to use the power of commenting as the teacher on work and encouraging students to comment and add to their peers work to increase collaboration. Try Kaizena a web app that makes it easy for teachers to give high-quality feedback on student work. Teachers simply highlight and speak to give verbal feedback, or attach reusable resources for common mistakes.
  5. Plan for continued learning. Brainstorm with students ways that they can continue to be engaged in learning throughout the summer. Have students create a resource list of internet places to visit and post on google classroom or teacher websites for student access. Have students set some lofty goals and have them write them down.
  6. Celebrate! There is much to be thankful for and recognize. Try finding something great in each one of your students and make a big deal about it. Create a celebration day to honor the remarkable achievements of your students complete with certificates, games, food, and music. Who doesn’t love to be celebrated?

If the ideas listed above are some things you’ve never tried before, don’t worry! Now is the time of the year where you have built strong relationships and know your students. If the activity works extremely well for you and your students, you can plan to make it a part of your routine next year. There may be someone else in the building who is willing to try something new with you, and it will give you a person to plan and brainstorm the details with. Remember to reach out to your building mentor or online support group as you venture into new territory. Your students will appreciate having engaging activities and a teacher who is willing to try something new--and keep them growing and learning until the #lastbell!

All the best to you all,

Michele, Debra & Jennifer

Christine, I want to thank guest bloggers Michele Hill @HillMrispo (teacher), Debra Campbell @DebraLCamp (tech coach), and Jennifer Hogan @Jennifer_Hogan (assistant principal) for their contributions! I hope you found at least one little nugget of wisdom in this post that was helpful that you might not have thought of before. I know I did!

As our blogging journey here at EdWeekTeacher is coming to a close, is there something that we haven’t yet shared that you think new teachers still need to hear about? Look forward to your insights.


Photo By Tim Gouw@Unsplash

The opinions expressed in The New Teacher Chat: Advice, Tips, and Support are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


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