As I reflect back on each day of school, I am amazed and excited about how much my students and I accomplished that day. We write, we discuss, we read, we practice, we study, and we learn a lot from each other every day. So as I think about how much we accomplished, I sometimes worry that students reflect on how long they had to sit in a desk all day. Time to refocus is a necessary piece to every lesson and every class period. A great way to be sure everyone is focused and ready, is to implement "Maintenance in Me" and Maintenance in We" breaks.
Maintenance in Me
The purpose of a Maintenance in Me break is a time to take care of personal things that are keeping oneself from focusing. For elementary students, the term 'maintenance in me' will likely become a more polite way of saying "Can I go to the bathroom?" For high school students, this might serve as a designated cellphone check time, should school policy allow cell phones. Regardless of what is keep the mind from focusing on the task at hand, this designated break is a great time to step aside, clear our minds, and refocus. Let's face it, even teachers need a maintenance in me!
Maintenance in We
This particular method of refocusing has become a new favorite routine in my teaching. The best aspect of this method is the we; this is a break that the class takes as a whole. The purpose of this break is to refocus, but for a designated amount of time and in a designated manner. I have found this still keeps the class structured and engaged, but students get the chance to release their bottled up energy. These breaks can be anything from jumping jacks to singing a song or a quick dance party. My personal favorite and a frequent request from students is the "Shake-It-Out Countdown". Watch below to see how fifth graders at PDS refocus!
Regardless of our method or structure, these breaks are a necessary component to teaching. I love the Language Arts content and could teach it all day and night. The reality is though, my students can only focus for so long and if I want their minds fully engaged, I must provide them with a time to refocus and recharge.