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Teaching a class full of students means that you’re always going to have a wide range of ability levels. Over the years, we’ve talked on this podcast about effective ways to support your students who are struggling academically. However, I’ll bet that you also have students who are high-achieving, which can lead to a new set of challenges for you as the teacher.
Our high-achieving students often get bored with their regular work, which can sometimes even lead to behavior issues and disruptions. These students become disengaged with the learning material because it’s too easy for them. They finish their work so quickly, and then either come to you for something else to do, or interrupt students who are working independently. That can be really frustrating for you and for your students!
So, how can you continue to support and challenge these high achieving students? As with so many other things in teaching, the solution begins with having a plan - because when we fail to plan, we plan to fail! You don’t want to just throw extra work at them, which could feel like a punishment for mastering the content.
The key is to plan enrichment activities that will spark interest and engagement in your high achieving students. I have ten fun, simple, and creative ways that you can challenge and enrich your students who are performing above grade level. These ideas will allow them to continue to grow, and give us a better understanding of what they’re capable of.
This list of enrichment ideas will fuel your imagination and build your teacher toolkit so that you can best support learners at all levels. Just remember that enrichment is not just about giving more of the same work. It’s more about challenging your students to think at a higher level and keep the learning going in a fun and practical way!
If you can plan ahead for these activities, it’s ultimately going to help your classroom management because your students will always have something to be working on. As we know, when students are motivated and engaged, there will be a lot less behavior challenges. Plus, as an added bonus, you’ll have happier parents because they’ll see that their child is getting their needs met.
I hope this information is helpful as you prepare for your first, second, or third year of teaching. Until next time, remember, just because you're a beginning elementary teacher, there's no need for you to struggle like one.
Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor
Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at drlorifriesen.com and at howdogshelpkids.com.
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