Keeping Their Eyes on the Finish Line: Combating Spring Fever

With the end of the school year in sight, students (and teachers) are feeling the effects of that perennial occurrence of distraction otherwise known as spring fever. The bad news is you can’t stop it. The good news, however, is that you can learn to work with it.  If you have students, try a few of these tips to combat spring fever and reach your instructional goals.
Take advantage of the sun
Warmer weather, longer days and plenty of sunshine are spring fever catalysts. “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” is a good mantra in this case. Hold class time outside and design activities or projects that involve hands-on, outside experiences.  Have a unit on chemistry coming up? Test the PH in different soil samples and discuss the impact on plant growth. Learning Earth science? Heading outside is a good way to put Mohs Scale into practice. Art. Reading. Math. There’s potential for every subject. 

Get creative
There’s never a bad time to incorporate project-based learning. The height of spring fever, however, is an ideal time to put that tool to work.  Incorporate activities that are relevant to the course material. Regardless of whether you’re inside or outdoors, the goal is simply to limit the time spent sitting still with worksheets or listening to instructions. For short-term diversions, use games, partner work, videos, and other interactive tools.

Don’t stop
It can be tempting to put in the bare minimum. The kids are wound up, after all, and so are you. “Getting them to focus on school work is a lost cause,” you may lament. Don’t give in to it. Maintain your classroom routines and hold fast to your rules. Switching gears into “the-year’s-almost-over” mode is counterproductive.

Work in pairs, not groups
Group work has its benefits, but the more students that are plugging away on a project, the more invitation there is for distraction, especially when the end of the year is in sight. If you have the headcount for it, divide your students into pairs. They’ll still reap the benefits of collaborative work. 

Enlist help
This isn’t about getting more adult hands on deck. It is about giving some of the responsibility to your students. Consider assigning a science lab or other activity to a student, and then asking him or her to share results in class.

Above all, be flexible
While you are continuing to enforce classroom rules and routines, it’s also important to embrace a bit of flexibility. You might not have scheduled an outdoor project this afternoon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take the lesson you’ve prepared out into the warm sun if your students are getting a bit restless in your traditional setting. Be prepared with an arsenal of learning activities, games, and multimedia components that you can employ if you need to. When it feels like you’re losing your students’ attention, try one of those interactive alternatives.

See? With some creativity and flexibility, you can overcome the pitfalls of spring fever and keep your students on track.