We have officially reached the time of the school year when it becomes very apparent that many of my students are hitting a bit of a wall.
Our first semester ended mid-January, and overall the students did a very nice job of finishing strong and doing their best to achieve goals they had set for themselves. When you take into consideration that this is their first year of “real” grades, this is something for them to be proud of and build upon.
Since the new semester began, however, I’ve seen some trends amongst students that would leave me to believe they are hitting a wall or experiencing a little ‘academic fatigue.’ This really isn’t too surprising. For one, these kids are going through their first round of semester grades; making the transition into middle school; navigating the tricky waters of school, social, and extracurricular responsibilities. On top of all that, they are also dealing with a definite uptick in the amount of work required of them…in all their classes.
Even though I’ve been doing this for 14 years, I have yet to come up with a magic bullet. I suppose that’s the point – there isn’t one. My best bet: continue to push yet be patient; keep expectations and standards high, while giving kids the support they need to get there; and continue finding ways to engage the students in the work and motivate them to push through the wall.
The winter doldrums don’t’ help matters, and usually things pick up with the calendar flipping to March. Once we’re full on into April and standardized testing has passed, we’re facing a whole new challenge…keeping the troops motivated and focused as the weather gets warmer!
It’s all part of the grind, and it’s all part of what keeps this gig interesting.