By Teachers, For Teachers
As the end of the school day approaches, many teachers can physically see their students’ energy level drop. As hard as you may try to use classroom management to keep your students awake and focused, you know just as well as your students how they are feeling, because you are exhausted yourself. When the energy supply winds down, then so does the mind. The students begin to drift off and their behavior starts to get erratic. As you sip your afternoon coffee and try and rally up the troops, determined to teach them up until the very last minute, you know all too well that things just aren’t going to go your way. Despite your fleeting efforts, you keep on teaching, even though you know that your students are not as focused as they were in the morning. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be like that. There are a few classroom management methods that you can do to ensure that your students are just as focused as they were when you greeted them in the morning. Here are a few classroom management tips to try.
Having students participate in brain breaks periodically throughout the day is a great way to keep their energy level up. Breaks that incorporate movement and that get your students’ heart rates up are a great way to increase their energy and focus. If your students have been sitting for a long period of time, then try leading them in a few exercises like stretching or standing yoga poses. You can even turn on some music and let your younger students get their wiggles out in a quick game of freeze dance. For older students, you can give them a few minutes to get up and socialize. Anything that gets them up and moving is a great way to increase their energy, so when you are ready to teach again you will have their direct attention.
Children (no matter what their age) respond very well to routine. To ensure that your goals, expectations, and ambitions for your students are never far from their mind, make sure that you instill a strict classroom routine. When students have a day-to-day and even minute-to-minute expectation of what they need and should be doing in the classroom, you can ensure that they will remain focused up until the end of the school day. Just make sure that you model and practice this routine, so that you can eventually just pose as the observer and watch as your classroom runs like a smooth, well-oiled machine.
Putting students into cooperative learning groups at the end of the day is a great way to ensure that they remain focused on their learning. Students not only get to get up and move around a little bit, but they also get to talk to their peers, which is a great way to keep their energy and focus up. Try using cooperative learning strategies like the jigsaw or round robin methods, where students get to move into groups and share their thoughts with their peers. All of the moving and talking will help keep them alert and focused up until the bell rings to go home.
A simple and fun way to end your school day and keep your students’ minds focused on learning is to use technology. The end of the day is the perfect time to get out your classroom tablets and let your students complete a few review app activities. Not only will students be enthusiastically enthralled in their learning, but they will also be focused on what they are learning. It’s a win-win for everybody.
If you have ever given your students the opportunity to do their homework before they leave for the day, then you know that almost all of your students would jump at the offer. You may not need a whole hour, but any amount of time that you give your students the chance to get their homework completed and out of the way will help to keep them focused and quiet.
The last hour or so of the school day can be tough, but as long as you have your daily routines, take a few brain breaks throughout your day, and use the time for group work, technology, or homework, then you can keep your students’ energy high and their focus up.
Do you have any classroom management tips on how to keep your students focused up until the bell rings? Please share your tips and tricks in the comment section below, we would love to hear what works for you and your students.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.