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Coping with end-of-the-year maladies.

As the school year winds down, teachers may find themselves faced with a classroom full of restless students suffering from maladies that range from simple spring fever to the dreaded "senioritis."

In the spring, when a young man's--or a young woman's--fancy lightly turns to thoughts of ... well, something other than class work, how is a teacher supposed to compete?

On beautiful days when the weather turns warm and trees and flowers are beginning to bloom, students may start gazing out windows rather than at textbooks.

Some teachers, especially at colleges and universities, simply move the class outside and hope that the joy of being in the outdoors, rather than gazing at it from a classroom, will energize their students. Other teachers view that as creating additional distractions for students.

Proponents of the al fresco class model sometimes say that the openness of the setting inspires an openness among students and facilitates discussion. Thinking outside the confines and structure of the classroom, students are more easily able to think outside the box. Opponents say that there is very little thinking going on when there is a game of Frisbee being played nearby or marching band practice going on. They see students as being completely unable to focus when outdoors on a beautiful spring day and prefer the slightly distracted looking-out-the-window student.

The warm weather of spring energizes students, so teachers can capitalize on that by planning more classroom work for the time of year when the weather is not so distracting and more active, hands-on projects for the more pleasant time of year.

Some experienced teachers actually plan their year with the spring fever issue in mind. In an article in the Baylor Lariat, Baylor University English lecturer Rachel Moore notes that she has spring fever in mind when she organizes her syllabus. In her course, research papers are due in the cold and rainy first half of the semester, while the more exciting material is saved for the nicer time of year.

Another article, this one in the Indiana Daily Student, notes that attendance drops as the temperature rises, but associate professor of geology Jim Brophy deals with it by giving students who show up "little rewards." For example, he tells them about a particular topic that will be an essay question on a future exam.

Everyone has to deal with spring fever, but there is another even more dreaded malady that occurs in high schools at the end of the school year--senioritis. The College Board notes that many students don't realize that the entire senior year is of importance to colleges, so now college acceptance letters often include the warning that acceptance is contingent on the student's continued success.

In its article, "What to Do About Senioritis," the College Board advises seniors to continue taking rigorous courses in their senior year. It also suggests continued involvement in activities and volunteer work. Many career and technical education students are involved in their student organizations and service-learning projects, so teachers can encourage them to continue those activities throughout their senior year.

The College Board also suggests an internship or career-exploration opportunity to motivate seniors and to help them prepare to make informed decisions about their career and education goals. That is something most career tech educators already know about, since they work with their students on finding internships, apprenticeships and other cooperative learning experiences.

Students in programs such as tech prep and career academies are already exploring their future options and finding what interests them. When you think about it, career and technical education might have the best cure for the end-of-the-year maladies--keeping students interested in learning and excited about their future.

Articles on Spring Fever and Senioritis

To read about how other teachers cope with these dreaded maladies, here are some articles available online.

"What to Do About Senioritis," The College Board. the-application/8626.html

"Searching for the Cure to Senioritis," District Administration pageprint.cfm?p=20

"Senioritis Has Set In," NEA Today.

"Spring Fever is Heating Up Fast, Students Enjoy Time Outside," The Lariat. story&story=12086

"Spring Fever," Indiana Daily. Student. php?id=16147
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Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
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