Common slump times: Post-Thanksgiving slump, post-midterm squirm, winter blues, Spring fever, senioritis.
Slump time symptoms: Decreased interest in work, shorter attention span, urge to want to rush through a project just to be done with it, bleary eyes, anxiety about entering an uncertain future, apathy, slumped-over-thedesk postures and general confusion (“What homework?! Did you assign homework!?”)
Strategies for re-engaging students
Mix up your routine: Take classroom learning out to the professional world, or bring it back into the classroom. If you haven’t gone on a field trip or had a guest speaker yet (and your schedule allows it), this is a great time of the semester for such activities, so students can see the link between school and their industries.
Vary your teaching techniques: Mix things up a bit to appeal to a wider variety of students. Have students do a learning styles inventory or take a learning styles inventory yourself and plan your next class around activities that you would not normally choose.
Remind students of their goals: Whenever you are lecturing or assigning a project to students, link it to their career goals or, at least, to their success on the final.
Share victories: Take a moment to share in students’ small (or big!) victories. Studies verify what may seem obvious; people are more motivated when they are succeeding. A few enthusiastic words go a long way.
Be passionate: Students prefer courses with passionate teachers. Make your passion evident about the course and the students you are teaching, and your students will respond in kind.
Show your support and empathy: Reengaging the discouraged students whose grades are low is crucial. Reconnect with students and discuss what steps can be taken to improve. Tell students that making mistakes is part of the learning process and that great ideas can come out of failure. Reinforce what students are doing well. Giving the students direction and encouragement will help them to see mistakes as stepping-stones to a stronger result.
Assign Peer Coaches: Working with others usually increases the motivation to do well and helps pump up the energy level. While students are working on their final projects, assign them a partner in class with whom they can check in, process ideas, and get informal feedback during the workshop time of class.
Strengthen the classroom community: Icebreakers are used to help strangers get to know each other, but they can also be used to deepen relationships and understandings between coworkers. Doing some sort of community building exercise later in the semester can help to build up the trust that students need to support each other through the final weeks of hard work in a class.
Look ahead: Motivate students to focus on the next opportunity and use this transitional time to move them towards purpose, direction, and action. Have students write out their five year, one year, and six month goals, in that order; then have them reflect on how the remaining work for the semester fits into their goals. Inspire seniors and last-semester grad students to go to an industry-specific networking event, a gallery opening, lecture, informational interview, or meeting with alumni.
Look back: Encourage all students to look back and celebrate what they’ve accomplished so far. Have students bring in work from the beginning of the term, or from their first semester at the Academy. Discuss how far they have progressed. If you have a particularly good group, celebrate their work at a final classroom gallery/ reception, and invite a few outside guests.