Four Strategies Teachers Can Use to Prevent Senioritis

Four Strategies Teachers Can Use to Prevent Senioritis
The Editorial Team January 13, 2013

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As the end of the school year ends, some educators may face a challenge in keeping their graduating seniors in the classroom and paying attention to their lessons.

According to a USA Today report, more than half of all high school seniors attempt to hold down jobs at the same time they are applying to colleges and participating in extracurricular activities. As a result, their ability to focus on schoolwork during this formative year becomes strained, which leads to absenteeism and a drop in performance, often called “senioritis.”

Teachers often feel helpless against the onslaught of this academic illness, but there are strategies teachers can try to alleviate it:

1. Emphasize the fun factor

Seniors looking forward to college may suddenly find their everyday high school classroom time boring and repetitive. To counter this feeling of routine, teachers may have to modify their lesson plans slightly. Relevant film screenings or multimedia presentations, for example, can give students a welcome break from the daily grind while assuring that they continue to absorb useful information. Ultimately, however, teachers may need to accept the fact that a certain amount of senioritis may occur no matter how stimulating the class material may be.

2. Apply college skills to high school routine

A college course load, with its rigorous number of first-year credit requirements, can startle and even overwhelm students who haven’t developed the necessary organizational skills to handle it. Teachers can make this point to students and suggest that they practice those skills in their senior year. By purchasing organizers or other planning tools (and learning how to use them), scheduling time for upcoming papers and projects, and generally mastering the art of balancing work, study and fun, students can use their senior year of high school as a kind of “real life boot camp” in preparation for college.

3. Help to process emotions

A high school student’s senior year challenges the emotions in a variety of ways, some of which manifest themselves as senioritis. Students may feel a confusing mix of excitement, joy, depression, grief and loss as they get ready to leave their friends and the school they know well in favor of new experiences. The National Association for College Admission Counseling suggests that teachers help students process their feelings and express their anxieties by referring them to a school counselor and/or providing a non-judgmental ear themselves. By sorting their emotions, protecting their physical health and challenging their minds, seniors can use this year as a valuable training ground for adulthood.

4. Remind students of the value of their work

Academic rigor can play an important role in preparing students for college, but many students fail to recognize this fact during their senior year. Teachers must try to impress on these students that the material they absorb now can make a difference once they enter a college classroom. By emphasizing how certain aspects of the class will relate directly to future college course work, teachers can capture the ongoing focus of the more ambitious students in the class.

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