How to Get Your Students Excited About Back-to-School

It’s that time of year again!

We hope you enjoyed your well-deserved summer vacation. And although back-to-school elicits mixed emotions, we hope that you’re as excited as we are to get off to a fresh start and look ahead to what this school year holds.

First impressions are the most important, so how can you convey your enthusiasm for teaching? How can you inspire in your students a love for learning? Whether you’re a veteran teacher or this is your first year in the classroom, here are four great ideas for starting off 2014-2015 with a bang!

  1. Try something new. Your students are likely facing many new “things” this year: a new teacher, new classmates, new areas of study, maybe even a new school or new administration! Join them in taking a risk and trying something new in the classroom. It could be a new way of arranging desks, or a new rewards system, reading a novel in a non-literature class, or trying out a new science experiment you read about this summer.  Tell the students that it’s new for you, too, and that it’s going to be a fun learning experience for everyone. Breaking away from tried-and-true lesson plans is certainly more work, but it may be just what you need to renew enthusiasm in your classroom—for you and your students!
  2.  Compile a crash course. Come up with a list of movies, books and interesting facts about your subject area and/or the topics you’ll cover this year. Distribute it on the first day of class and take a poll to see how many of your new students have already had a “sneak peak” to your course because they’ve seen, read or know about something on your list. Your students will feel more confident and more excited about the upcoming course load.
  3.  Ask the kids what they want to learn about. Ask the students to take a few minutes to think about what they want to learn this year in your class and to write their thoughts on a piece of paper. You can do something as simple as collecting the papers and reading them aloud, or something as elaborate as creating a “Learning Tree” in advance and having the students attach their papers to a board that will stay in your classroom throughout the year. While you won’t be able to satisfy every whim, try to find creative ways to incorporate each student’s ideas into your lesson plans, in some manner, throughout the year. Your students will love seeing their ideas come into play at unexpected moments, and they’ll always be listening and waiting for their turn!
  4.  Set a goal. You may already have a goal in mind—reading a certain number of books, meeting or beating a given time goal for completing a set of math problems—or it may be a goal that you decide on as a class. Collective goals have the ability to inspire your students and create cohesive enthusiasm in the classroom. Goals and their rewards can take many forms. If your students read Les Misérables and the class average on the test is above 75%, you’ll go see the musical. If everyone in the class finishes the one-mile run in a given amount of time, you’ll have a field day. Of course, in our business, some of the most inspiring stories we hear are of teachers who set a goal show their students the world, quite literally, and the ways the students prepare all year long to achieve that goal.

So, welcome to another year of teaching and inspiring another group of students to acquire the means to achieve their dreams. We’re so glad you’re back!