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Six Suggestions to Spark a Spectacular School Year

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After several stormy seasons of unsettled school life, the task of establishing a halcyon educational haven and removing the mask of scholastic uncertainty continues. Accessing tailor-made technology, tapping into technological know-how, and curating current, forward-thinking curricula, which includes considering innovative approaches to infusing artificial intelligence (AI), has become paramount. How can educators continue to whet students’ appetites for standards-based educational sustenance? Perhaps equally important, which prudent path should school leaders pursue to perennially reimagine learning? Here are six methods to motivate students and spark a spectacular start to the de novo school year.

1. Turn Ambition into Ignition  

What has been found to be profound for greatly improving the overall educational experience? Modeling matter-of-course mistakes and supporting all students with setting sensible scholastic goals. For example, one top private school blog post delineates that while some schoolchildren thirst to be first, they need novel navigation and aspire for accountability. Consequently, educators must inspire scholars to believe they can achieve to increase confidence and meliorate intrinsic motivation. To spark interest in school and make learning visibly cool, students need to fathom the “what” and “how” to sharpen sapience.  

  • First, provide a concise checklist of sensible student goals.  
  • Next, create an educational road map to arrive at achievement.  
  • After that, summarize each lesson to make learning more lucid.  
  • Finally, swing into celebration and provide the study scene with scholarly swagger.

Set goals to help students focus on vital vocabulary, key concepts, and main ideas while promoting resilience and sustaining inner support.  Above all, maintain momentum with realistic, achievable goals to increase students’ sense of ownership, self-empowerment, and school savvy to successfully navigate classroom expectations.

2. Recognize with Rewards

Scholars generally appreciate praise, and this is an especially potent intrinsic motivator. One witty educational website provides a virtual rewards chart in which cheered and steered students ferry a football across a virtual field. After passing a graphic goal line, they can receive a real reward! Educators can consider delving into digital stickers or providing opportunities to receive relevant rewards via Class Dojo, which may include homework passes, extra time for arts and crafts, or busting out progressive grooves for hip DJ moves via standout students. Turn it up, shake it out, and let them dance! Google also offers an array of digital choice boards to both engage and inspire. 

3. Fashion Novel Feedback

Fashion novel feedback to provide a mindful learning snack. Screencastify or Flip may provide pertinent opportunities to post courteous, insightful comments and expanded answers. In addition, Padlet helps make learning fun and supports myriad file types, from spreadsheets and selfies to Spotify. Even post-pandemic, online learning tools may help improve classroom collaboration, enhance communication, and instill confidence by creating opportunities for students to get creative, provide immediate feedback, and improve the overall learning experience.  

Imaginative images and unique sayings on prerecorded photoplay may also help pique heedfulness. Inspire innovation! With the right technology, instructors deliver timely, effective feedback with the power to achieve greater learning.  Regardless of your ritual, ensure high-impact learning by referencing goals and remaining specific.  Guide students with specific “glows,” or what they did well, and targeted “grows,” or how they could improve, and remain cognizant that every child needs a champion, and children learn more from people they admire.  

4. Sharpen Service-Learning Skills 

When students tap into their passions to help their communities, the results may reach far beyond the confines of a physical classroom. All scholars have the capacity to contribute, and service-learning is not a novel concept overseas. For example, many international schools require students to partake in service-learning projects to teach compassion, advance active learning, and develop well-rounded, global citizens. 

Dr. Gregory Hedger, Director of International School Yangon, relates in an articulate article published on his personal blog and on the Central and European Schools Association website that service-learning can be a magnificent medium in which to enhance collaboration and teamwork among students and foster a deeper sense of multicultural understanding. “The international school environment, with students coming from a large number of different countries, seems to be a perfect opportunity to promote multicultural acceptance and understanding.”  Indeed, the American School in Japan, a top international school not only in Asia but also in the world, spotlights service-learning on its website to highlight how students pursue their passions while helping humanity: “We believe that purposeful work builds purposeful students who will leave ASIJ equipped and empowered to solve real world problems.”

When students surmise that their contributions are considered and voices valued, service-learning becomes a terrific tool to enhance classroom teaching and community empowerment. 

Suggestions for service-learning in the arts are theatrical performances or art shows for caring causes. In the subject of science, service learning activities could provide support for animal organizations, habitat studies, and environmental conservation. School leaders may also want to consider civic responsibility projects and clean air and water quality programs to help humanity and elevate our lives on Earth. In sum, service-learning proves that the choices students make and the actions students take reveal the quintessential essence of who we, as humans, truly are: civil, productive, and united.

5. Parents are Pertinent Learning Partners

Parents are pertinent learning partners for their children’s education. Keep them informed! Pinging parents with pertinent information helps teachers ensure that scholars are on track to complete work at home and submit work on time. Involve parents, especially at the outset, to help ensure children are rewarded when they meet measurable classroom goals. If students are struggling, parents could also offer myriad insights as to why, and suggest strategies for strengthening instruction. Finally, parents should receive recognition for their sustained support throughout the school year.

6. Eternally Emphasize Empathy 

Empathy is invariably a crucial component of cultivating any successful school. To illustrate, many top learning institutions in diverse regions around the world, such as The American School in Japan (ASIJ), Graded – The American School of São Paulo, and International School Bangkok ISB emphasize leading and learning with a goal of scholars becoming the best versions of themselves. Infusing empathy across curricula promotes purpose, increases integrity, enhances identity, accentuates acceptance, guides genuine mental health progress, elevates erudition, strengthens civility, and greatly sharpens social graces. With many wonderful ways for scholars to surmise that consideration counts, consider modeling that kind comments are commendable and attentive actions are admirable.    

Magnanimity truly matters. Inspire scholars to take action, lead with love, and kindle compassion. Give students the gift of graciousness, and empower them to amplify good will throughout their lives. 

Originally published by The lnternational Educator (TIE) on September 13, 2023. https://www.tieonline.com/article/3559/six-suggestions-to-spark-a-spectacular-school-year

Scott Freiberger is an assistant principal in New York. He has been contributing to the Taiwan community for over two decades and visits Taipei often with his family. Scott is an attentive administrator and a passionate pedagogue who advocates for all students, especially ELLs/MLLs and students with special needs. Follow him on Twitter/X: @scottfreiberger

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