6 Ways to Heat up Your Classroom When it’s Cold Outside

Are your students unmotivated this time of year? So are mine…In fact, so am I!

For many students, February can be a difficult month. The holidays are no more than a The Teacher's Academyfaded memory and summer vacation is still far off the future. Add to that, freezing cold temperatures and short daytime hours, and often you are left with a classroom of tired, unmotivated kids. This is the time of the year I need a kick in the butt, an exciting venture, a new trick up my sleeve. Why not try something new and outside the box with your students?

70% of High School Drop Outs Cite Lack of Motivation as Major Cause

This lack of motivation is not only a hindrance to your students’ success at school, but can be a real danger to their futures. When surveyed, 70 percent of high school dropouts reported lack of motivation as being a cause for dropping out (Bridgeland, Dilulio and Morison, 2006). What are some things that we, as teachers, can do to bring back that excitement into our classrooms?

 1. Empower!

Give students more control. Kids are much more likely to be excited about an activity when they are empowered. Hold classroom meetings, ask for feedback, engage your students in the process of learning. Project Based Learning is a great way to get students The Teacher's Academyinvolved in a meaningful way. This method of learning is centered around a question or a challenge that students work on for an extended period of time. When done effectively, PBL can change the entire dynamic of your classroom. Your students will learn to work together, solve problems, and take charge of their own learning. Teach Thought provides links to a dozen online resources that will inspire and assist you in making Project Based learning a reality in your classroom.

2. Mindfulness leads to focus.

It’s not only the kids who feel the winter blues. Many adults feel it as well. Enthusiasm is infectious! Being upbeat and passionate about your lessons is one of the greatest motivators you can give your students. But finding that enthusiasm this time of year is the hard part. Take three minutes a day- with or without your students- and complete a guided meditation, write in a journal or do one good deed. These mindful acts pave the way for success both short and long term. The Teacher’s Academy offers a course on how to incorporate mindfulness exercises in the classroom. February might be a good time to look into it!

 3. Move!

One of the most difficult things about this time of year is the lack of exercise. Recess may be limited to indoor play, and after school sports may not be an option. The lack of movement can affect kids’ energy levels and motivation. Find creative ways to get your kids moving. Infuse today’s lesson with a “Brain Break.” Incorporate dancing and/or stretches into your routines. Take short walks around the campus when the sun is at its brightest. Or, simply take a field trip to the window to play a quick game of “I Spy.” A recent trend that has already hit the corporate world and now gaining popularity in schools to replace chairs with exercise balls. Many teachers have found that exercise balls keep kids more alert and ready to learn. Check out Go Noodles for some other great ideas to get your kids hopping!

 4. Performance Arts

Music, story-telling, role play, visual arts and drama are enormously helpful in motivating students. A study by Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University found that young people The Teacher's Academywho participate in the arts regularly are much more likely to win awards for school attendance and and to be recognized for academic achievement. Teaching and the performance arts go hand in hand. Want more ways to infuse performance arts into the classroom? Check out The Teacher’s Academy course and earn professional development hours for your time.

 5. Make ‘em work!

Every opportunity should be taken to make students feel like part of the classroom community. Being responsible for daily classroom chores helps give kids a sense of purpose and commitment. Feeling that deeper connection can be very helpful in motivating The Teacher's Academystudents to come to school and do their best, even when they are not feeling up to it. Scholastic offers some unique ideas on how to make classroom jobs an engaging part of the school day.

 6. Be Encouraging!

The truth is, no matter what you do to make your classroom a stimulating environment, there will still be rough days. Whether there are difficulties at home, academic struggles, troubles with friends, or just the winter blues… students will sometimes be so entrenched in their own issues that it can seem impossible to motivate them. A warm, positive attitude and encouraging voice are sometimes the only things that get students through the roughest days. Display students’ work, recognize improvement, and make note of their successes, both big and small.

Teachers need a boost too!

Winter can be a difficult time, not only for students, but for teachers as well. However, as adults, we understand that no matter how unmotivated we may feel, we must remain accountable. One of the biggest responsibilities for teachers is fulfilling professional development requirements. Driving to take courses after work or on the weekends during the winter can be draining. The Teacher's AcademyLet The Teacher’s Academy make this task a little easier for you. Our helpful courses can be taken from home, at a time that is convenient for you. All of our courses fulfill Act 48 requirements and are accepted in most states. Contact us today and let us help you achieve your professional development goals quickly and effectively so that you can reserve your energy for the important work of teaching.

Teachers, Are Your Students Ready for College or a Career?

Eight signs that your students will make it next year!

Senior year- Many students have already checked out. They have their college admissions letter or maybe even a job lined up after school lets out… or maybe they don’t! Whatever their plans, what makes students successful after high school is how well you’ve prepared them for the next phase. Getting accepted into college or landing the job is only the first step for these young minds. How can you prepare them to have success in this next major endeavor? More importantly, does your curriculum even support it?

Standardized tests, state rankings, college acceptance rates and district polling requirements are clouding the real reason we got into this profession. With all of this noise, are you still able to prepare your students for the real world? Can they adapt to a life of responsibility, communication, collaboration, and creative thinking after high school? Let’s hope that the answer is yes, but just to be sure, take a look at the signs that your students are well on their way to a successful life after school lets out in June.

1. GPA is A-OK

It’s no surprise that grades do tell a lot about the student. Study habits, work ethic, rate of responsibility and stewardship can all be inferred by a single letter: A or B. In general, A or B students have greater success post-secondary school because it takes a lot of effort to maintain those grades throughout high school. These students generally have good interpersonal skills, are successful at thinking on their feet, can adapt to many situations and will have a stronger drive than other students. Anything less than an A or a B tells a different story. Administrators and bosses alike will choose the A/B student expecting a certain caliber of worker. However, grades don’t always show the full picture. This is where the other variables come into play:

2. Can your students make inferences?

In other words, can a student hear one idea and use it to draw conclusions about another idea? This is a great indicator of intelligence. It shows curiosity and the ability to think creatively. Both skills are crucial for navigating a life with more freedoms. Whether you are discussing a modern day Hamlet or the college basketball players’ union, do your students form opinions based in facts and observation? If so, well done! They have a good shot at success in their college or career path.

3. How are their comparing and contrasting skills?

How often do your students get to really compare and contrast content they are learning? The world is filled with conflicting stories and information. How well can your students evaluate the facts and compare and contrast opinions to determine their own? What lessons do you teach that affords them this opportunity? If your students can find common themes across texts and make connections easily to their own lives, these skills are sharp enough to propel them into the next phase of their life!

4. Can they utilize a variety of technology to present findings, communicate with peers or market themselves?

Nowadays, early on in a child’s education, students

 learn how to use the computer. At some point, a switch happens and they begin to use the computer to learn. In other words, they have the ability to accurately choose and execute a computer program based on its ability to either calculate, organize or present desired data. Students with this type of technical expertise not only have an advantage in the career and higher-learning sector, but are stiff competition for older candidates without this experience.

5. Are they comfortable speaking in a crowd… under pressure?

The ability to think on their feet is one of the most useful skills your students can acquire. Formal presentations are an effective way to achieve this goal. However, for an even more authentic experience, consider allowing students to present in front of a board of teachers, parents, or professionals in an environment that is unfamiliar to them. The experience will not only allow them to experience “being on” but will also help them to realize the real-life implications of their words.

6. Do they know how the stock market works and how world trends affect it? Do they even care?
While the developmental life skills mentioned above are the key indicators of potential success, giving your students a few extra tricks will give them an advantage in the world. Most schools offer a finance course as an elective which many students overlook. Unfortunately, many students graduate without any real understanding of “The Market” and the integral role it plays in world events. Giving them the fundamentals of this system will not only allow them a greater understanding of the world, but will also help them to plan their financial futures. Your students, our future leaders, will thank you for it.

7. Do they have a resume?

Even if the top three elements are Dog Walker, Soccer team and After-Care helper, students should go through the experience of creating their own resume. Taking the time to look back at their contributions and reflecting on the positives promotes drive and confidence. It’s also an incredible way to boost morale, teach life skills and work on good ol’ fashioned grammar. Not to mention, resume-writing skills are paramount to basic inter-personal communication that can be easily integrated into any curriculum model. Once students understand the basics of resume writing, teaching them the crucial role that resumes play in finding employment and what it takes to stand out from the rest of the crowd are invaluable tools.

8. Are YOU familiar with College and Career Readiness Standards?

The Common Core State Standards initiative, although a bit controversial, provides anchor standards for college and career readiness. We can debate the effectiveness of the Standards initiative all day. But let’s not! Buried in this website are key skills that prepare students for college and/ or a career. These readiness standards are divided into the following groups: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language. Integrating these standards into your planning will amount to a greater learning experience for your students and hopefully, prepare them for what the world is expecting of them upon graduation.

Colleges are designed to deepen a knowledge base and provide an opportunity for students to specialize their interests. The work force is willing to provide job-training skills, but only the truly prepared will be able to make the most of those experiences. Empower your students with the skills they will need for true future success… while teaching them what’s going to be on the next standardized test! 😉 Seem impossible? We’re teachers…There’s always a way.

Perhaps you are worried that teaching the stock market doesn’t fit in your curriculum or that standardized tests don’t test public speaking. Instead of seeing these things as obstacles, think of them as an opportunity to get creative and integrate these skills into your classes. The Teacher’s Academy’s course, College and Career Readiness helps you find areas in your curriculum that may lend themselves to teaching these life skills. Learn the basics of finance and the stock market and how you can deliver that information to your students. Encourage your students to start their own businesses and explore the preparation and planning that goes into it. Dive into Prezi as an alternative presentation software, update your resume, and hone in on your interviewing skills in The Teacher’s Academy professional development course, College and Career Readiness.


The Teacher’s Academy offers affordable professional development for busy teachers. Courses range from 3-18 hours and are approved in most states. Get your PD from home, or on the road. Let The Teacher’s Academy help. We celebrate teachers. We love teachers. We are teachers.