Early Monday Morning I’m dreading the teacher table. My leveled readers are crap and my kids are bored to death with them. I’m bored to death with them. We’re the walking dead. How can I get myself motivated? How do I get them motivated?
We’ve all had those moments when you see glassy stares, drooling mouths, and vacant expressions, all across the classroom.
Here are 5 strategies I rely on to help me get kids engaged, excited about learning, and back from the dead.
- Make it relevant. All material—anything–can be made relevant to your kids’ lives through connections. I know you are doubting me. You think there’s no way to connect a main idea to their lives. But try this: ask them what’s the main idea of the previous day. Give an example of your day with details to support your main idea of, “I had a challenging day” or “Tuesday was the best day ever.”
- Ask Questions. At the beginning, during, or end of a lesson, connect back to the students with questions such as:
“How would this make you feel?”
“What would you do in this situation?”
“Have you ever experienced something like this? What did you do?”
- Partner or Pod Talk. Engage students in answering questions or discussing challenges, ideas, or answers with their peers with partners or in a pod (a grouping of desks or at a table). Kids want to talk, that’s a no-brainer.
- Reflections. Students need to think about their own learning or connections to how they can use something in their lives. At the end of a lesson, have students write or discuss what they learned, how they can use the lesson in their lives, or their level of understanding of the lesson.
- Zombies. Kids love to read about zombies. I’ve seen some great Teachers Pay Teachers lessons with zombies for math and reading. After you’re finished with the zombies, try other lessons about the Titanic, King Tut, or Dr. Seuss inspired close reads.
Using these strategies will help your kids (and you) feel motivated and engaged. If they don’t, maybe you need to check their pulse. But don’t get too close, they might try to eat your brains!