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March 01, 2006

Life - The Spring Doldrums: Staying on Track

Hi all,

For many of us, March signifies that the spring semester is into full swing and the schoolyear is more than half over...Tired yet?

Here in Japan, the schoolyear actually begins in April, and so I'm actually on vacation...Jealous yet?

Yes, it's true, I'm on vacation, though I'm not exactly lounging poolside with a cocktail, not yet anyhow. For those of you who are looking for a rush of energy and renewed enthusiasm, I dedicate this post on the ever-evolving ESL-Lesson-Plan Blog to "staying on track" during what some people often refer to as the spring doldrums . . .

. . . In the words of a friend:

"Usually, around the beginning of March I start to think about how many weeks are left until the end of the semester and panic! Will my students learn everything I planned for them to learn? Are they getting bored? Good gosh, those spring months with virtually no holidays can be deadly!

Let's all relax...deep breaths...1, 2, 3. Ok, here's a few things I've done in the past to get re-energized:

1) Go to a conference or workshop - Attending a conference always inspires me to try new things, challenging me to put into practice whatever is being discussed or presented. Plus, the ability to complain about overcrowded classes and that student who sits in the back row who is always late, offers opportunities to get things off your chest, meet new people, and share ideas.
2) Try something new - Try something new in class. Perhaps a 5-minute warm-up or a short activity at the end of class can change the energy in your classroom. Have a plan to finish a chapter in your text? Don't! Maybe a game or some time for free conversation can offer students a chance to "put languange into practice" and allow you a chance to re-assess their skills and your plans.
3) Surf the web - Lastly, I find that checking out ESL websites that offer teaching tips, activities, etc. that I can incorporate into my classes often encourages me to be creative and implement some new activities, especially for #2 above! This often gets me excited to get into class and forge ahead!

So in short, when those spring blues kick-in, try one of the above activities to renew your energy and help you stay on track!

p.s. - Did you know that you can receive updates about ESL activities, conferences and websites every month by subscribing to my newsletter? Just find the ESL Instruct info in the left-hand margin, just above syndication, and follow the directions. You can also get email updates when I add new blog entries! Type your email address into that little space below my photo at the top left of this page! It's that easy!

Today's question: What do YOU do to keep your energy up and to stay on track?


Marlen Harrison
March 2006 Guest-Writer for ESLemployment

About the author of this entry:
Marlen hails from South Florida but has lived abroad in both Europe and Asia. His own international education experiences include a year at Kingston University in Surrey, England. In 1995, Marlen earned his B.S. in Psychology from Appalachian State University.and then was awarded the M.A. in Education and Human Development from George Washington University in 1997. Currently, he is pursuing a doctoral program in TESOL after four years of teaching in a variety of settings in Western Japan. In addition to his liberal arts and educational background, Marlen is also a member of the Japanese Association for Language Teaching, acting as Co-Coordinator for their Learner Development special interest group.

Posted by ESL Lesson Plan at March 1, 2006 01:37 AM

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