Where did the time go? Fall semester may seem like it only just began, but the end of term is in sight, and getting closer every day. As educators prepare for the holidays, it’s important to wrap up fall semester on a high note and send your students off to a holiday break ready for some much-needed rest before a successful spring term. The question is how to end fall semester on a note that keeps your students motivated and engaged, but doesn’t risk burning them (or yourself) out. Here are some tips for wrapping up fall semester and going into your well-earned holiday break on a high note:
Be Aware of Your Students’ Schedules
The end of fall semester is a frantic time for educators — but it can be equally hectic for students! As a teacher, it’s important to be mindful of what your students are going through at the end of the semester. This holds particularly true for seniors, who will be finishing up their college applications, and while everyone hopes their students haven’t procrastinated, many seniors will be in a mad dash to get those last few applications out before the deadline. Juniors will also have full plates as they enter the highest-intensity period for SAT/ACT prep, with an eye towards a spring test date.
Finally, depending on your school, you should know that this may be the end of your work with many of your students. For some schools, new schedules for spring term will mean all-new classes for you after the break. Keep this in mind if you’re winding down not only a term, but your time with any given student.
Keep Your Students Learning to the Last Minute
Everyone has been working hard for months now, and with the end of the semester in sight, students may be tempted to “turn off” their brains for the last few weeks leading up to break. Don’t worry, though — this is not inevitable! If you’ve already guided your students through your class’s midterm exams, now would be an ideal time to give your students some smaller assignments, maybe with a more creative or interactive element to them, or to use some games in the classroom, which are scientifically shown to help students learn, in addition to being a lot of fun! Either way, you’ll keep your students engaged with your subject and happy to learn, even as they’re eager for break to arrive.
Skip the Homework — But Plan Some Engaging Break-Time Activities
Homework, over the holidays? No way! Your students have been working hard and deserve a real break, to let their minds rest, wrap up their college applications, get a jump on test prep, and spend some quality time with their families. Don’t assign any homework over the holidays. Your students won’t fall behind just because of a two-week stretch with no homework, and a solid break will help them avoid burnout, as well as letting you start spring 2022 without a pile of grading already on your desk.
That said, just because you haven’t assigned formal homework doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your students some holiday activities to keep their minds fresh. Set them a daily challenge, like reading a few pages from a novel, having a short conversation in a foreign language, or going outside and identifying plants and animals. You can even host a video chat get-together midway through the break, for students to talk about how their holidays are going, what they’re looking forward to next term, and what they might be concerned about. This will keep your students thinking and engaged with your subject, without the pressure of a looming formal deadline. And checking in provides a great opportunity for any students who are missing their friends or worrying about the challenges of the upcoming semester.
As our team at A-List knows well, the year may move in a cycle, but education never really stops. Ending fall 2021 on the right note, and welcoming in spring 2022 after a break, is just one more step on your student’s educational journey — and with the right guide, they’ll be steady through the whole process.