Summertime, and the learning is easy…

It's hot, the exams are over and everyone is tired, but you can still keep students' learning on track, says Adam Riches.

As we enter the home stretch leading up to the summer holidays, students and teachers alike are liable to let fatigue get the better of them. It’s been a long year; many students are finishing up an exhausting set of exams – and teachers need a break, too.

In the 15 June edition of Tes, Adam Riches has some tips to share about how to keep students engaged for the last weeks of term.

1. Be positive

Riches suggests a positivity/negativity ratio of 5:1, while emphasising the importance of positive speech. “Analyse closely what you are saying to students, particularly when dealing with behaviour or trying to motivate them,” he advises. After all, if you’re smiling, they're more likely to be smiling, too.

2. Contextualise learning It’s always a good idea to have a ready answer for the age-old question of “What’s the point, sir?” but it’s particularly important at a time of year when motivation and attention spans are already lagging. Riches suggests two ways to do this: “link learning to the real world or link learning to exams that the students are going to be sitting.”

3. Be clear with instructions If the lesson plan is not clearly explained, you’ve lost your students before you’ve even begun. This is especially true in the summer months when students are less inclined to concentrate anyway. “Reiterate your expectations, hone your explanations and be more explicit than you might be normally,” says Riches.

4. Adapt your speech Even the most intelligent teacher can leave a class bored and disengaged if their communication style is not appropriate. Riches advises steering away from overly academic language and keeping lessons accessible to keep students on track at a time when they might be less inclined to pay close attention. “Simplifying your language a little more or allowing time for additional explanation can be really useful,” he advises.

5. Respond to work If you stop giving in-class feedback and marking work, then students are less likely to care about putting the effort in. Riches says this can be particularly problematic in the summer months: “Having consistent, regular feedback makes students feel valued, and can be an excellent way to help them progress and to keep them engaged.”

6. Keep on testing Many students have just finished GCSEs or Sats, and there is an inclination to avoid testing in the weeks that follow, but Riches believes that continuing assessment can be extremely useful to continue students’ learning. “Keep in mind that varying the style of test can mean that pupils are more willing to engage with them,” he says.

Source: TES (