For Teachers

Three Ways to Beat the 'Senior Slump'

By The Room 241 Team November 8, 2012

Senior slump, senior slide, senioritis–call it what you want but the fact is many students in their senior year of high school often struggle to maintain the motivation necessary to keep learning a priority. While a wish to enjoy the social aspects of high school before departing for college is certainly understandable, slacking off can pose major problems for senior slump students. Consequences could include missing out on valuable learning opportunities and earning poor grades, which in turn may lead to loss of scholarship funds or even a revoked college admission. Students able to scrape by with decent marks still risk arriving at college unprepared for the more challenging work that lies ahead.

Unfortunately, while you can warn senior slump students of the risk they’re taking until you’re blue in the face, few will find your concern particularly motivating. Instead, motivated teachers are most likely to produce motivated students. Skip the lecture and put one or more of the following practices in place to keep your senior slump students engaged during the remainder of their high school career.

Technology

BYOD is a hot term in education right now. The acronym stands for “bring your own device,” or the practice of allowing students to use their own tablets and laptops in the classroom. Today’s high school students love anything and everything to do with technology, so incorporating devices into assignments may be the ideal route to fostering engagement. Rules will need to be set in place to prevent online misconduct. With the correct approach, BYOD has the potential to revolutionize high school classrooms, particularly for college-bound seniors.

Long-Term Projects

Most high school students enjoy working in groups, especially if they are interested in the concepts covered in group projects or assignments. Group work is also beneficial in that it teaches students to collaborate, a skill experts say is more important than ever for those entering the workforce. While many teachers use group projects in the classroom to some extent, few assign long-term projects that span months or even full semesters. Planning such projects can be very time-intensive for teachers, especially as they may struggle to consistently connect project requirements to key concepts in their courses. Sustaining student interest and motivation may also be a struggle, as seniors often have a proclivity for procrastination.

The secret to the successful inclusion of long-term projects into the curriculum is student involvement. When students are able to direct their own learning, their engagement in the material grows tenfold. While the teacher should provide some sense of structure surrounding the project, some or even most of the decisions should be left up to students. Teachers can then provide feedback on these choices and make suggestions as needed. To discourage procrastination, teachers should split projects into sections and provide deadlines throughout the course of the semester. This way, when the deadline for the final version approaches, students won’t be left scrambling to put everything together at the last minute.

College Preparation

Preparation for college does not just involve learning to write a good paper or take an exam; for those students choosing to leave home and live in the dorms, a huge transition is on the horizon. Teachers can talk with college-bound students about what they can expect in their first year in the “real world.” Such topics can be incorporated into the curriculum in a number of ways, through looking at the historical impact of college students in American History classes, to interviewing current college students for English papers on the college experience or even attending an open lecture at a nearby campus.

When using this approach, avoid excluding students who are not planning on attending college. It may help to take a survey at the beginning of the semester and ask students to write what their plans are after they graduate from high school. If a significant portion of the class is planning on heading straight into the workforce, you’ll want to make a point of including work-related issues as well as college concerns.

Keeping seniors interested and motivated is no easy task, but it’s worth the effort. Your influence could very well determine whether your students succeed in college and the workforce.

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