5 ways to reset the energy in your classroom

It’s Monday morning.  Students are tired.  A quick glance around the room reveals half-full mega Dunkin’s, Monsters almost gone, and groggy teens. 

When my co-teacher and I talked about this lesson on Friday, we envisioned chart paper and brainstorming, our full group digging into standards and reflecting.

But now it’s Monday morning. A full weekend has lapsed, and I’m late to class due to other early-morning issues I had to address. So when I walk in expecting class to be engaged in meaningful reflection and discussion, I’m dismayed to find my co-teacher standing at the front of the room talking.  And talking.  And talking.  

I can see his message is failing to translate.  There are too many words for Monday morning.  Our students’ energy is so low, and yet it’s this elephant in the room that everyone is actively ignoring. How might we defeat this?

5 ways to reset the energy:

  1. Call it out. Embrace your inner Richard Simmons (where is he, anyway?) and kick that low energy to the curb with a quick brain break or simple yoga warm-up.
  2. Get them talking. It’s Monday. We just wakin’ up. Let’s talk about our weekend, our morning, our breakfast…just something to warm up those talking and thinking muscles so we can then start to think about the content.
  3. Switch gears with some media. Make a playlist of video clips to have on file for occasions such as these–short clips of genius that will help ease them into the right frame of mind (or just simply hit the reset button).
  4. Take a lap. Get outside and do a “walk-n-talk” guided by a question you (or your students) pose. Students pair up and discuss that question on their walk. It might be something content-related or it might not; make the call based on your students.
  5. Brain dump. Give students 5-7 minutes to write (or doodle, or whatever they create with a pencil and paper) about whatever they want to write about. Provide the open space to share afterward, which may lead to some lively conversation.

We eventually recovered, but we didn’t employ any of these strategies. (Failure is the best teacher?) Teaching is such a human-centered profession and so very personal, but sometimes we ignore that fact and soldier on in an effort to stick to our plans. Believe me, it’s worth the 10-15 minute investment to start with students who are ready to learn…and you might just be building relationships along the way. Let’s remember this as we return from December break!

photo cred Zachary Nelson: Unsplash

What are some ways you reset the energy in your classroom? Please share!

Published by

Lori Lisai

educator, arts enthusiast, runner, 2015 Rowland Fellow, and inspiration junkie cannonballing transformative classroom practice and life in general

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