April is the cruelest month

Alas, it is April.

The sun and flowers mark the return of technicolor to many parts of the country. The outdoors beckons us to smell the fresh air, to hear the song birds, to take in the sights of spring.

image from: http://coolimages4free.com/tag/hello-april-ecards/

At the same time, class projects are at full-steam and your class is entering the last quarter of the semester. Work loads are intense for us and our students. We are sleep-deprived and finding we haven’t really planned that well for the last few weeks. Faculty committee work has heated up and the amount of email traffic is overwhelming.

I always dread April.

How can you organize your work load and at the same time be able to return to the out of doors and smell the flowers?

What I do is make more lists and itemize them. I distribute my tasks into those that can be done outside (like grading and reading primary articles to plan a class discussion) and those that have to be indoors (like most things that require my computer). If spring fever starts to get the better of me, I stand outside in a patch of sun and feel the warmth on my face. Or, I move a meeting or office hour outside to a picnic bench or outdoor table at a campus eatery.

image from: https://localwiki.org/davis/Study_Spots

If we are feeling the pull of spring, imagine how our students feel! The distractions of the unfolding technicolor landscape combined with the increased stress of the academic work load conspire to make it increasingly hard to stay motivated and focused. Here are some strategies that might help your students stay motivated in April.

  1. Give your students reminders of what’s coming up.
  2. Help them organize their time studying, writing and learning.
  3. Talk with them about ways to manage stress and spring fever.
  4. Hold office hours outside.
  5. Consider a class preparation assignment that requires your students to go outside or to take a photo.

What ideas have you tried?