Khooneh takouni, which translates to "shaking the house" is a Persian ritual of spring cleaning that precedes the Persian New Year each spring.
The ritual of spring cleaning, in many cultures, provides a fresh start as we enter the season of new beginnings. As trees bloom and flowers blossom many people enjoy a renewed sense of empowerment and life.
Unfortunately, many of our students see the spring only as the beginning of the end of the year and the last hurdle before summer vacation. Students who have not experienced academic or social success during the early part of the school year will often "cash out" in the spring while they await the reprieve of the summer months.
With the same enthusiasm evoked by spring cleaning and renewal, teachers can motivate students to consider this season a time of new beginnings. Here are some ideas for renewing your students' sense of interest, enthusiasm and eagerness to succeed.
Host a khooneh takouni ritual celebration in your classroom or school. Motivate your students to clean their desks, lockers and organize their belonging. Set up big garbage bins and offer cleaning supplies so that students can experience the exhilaration of a fresh start.
Hold an "Out with the old…In with the new" celebration. Allow students to "throw away" any old school work that they are not particularly proud of. Ask them to write down some of their negative habits on paper and perform a ritual of crumbling them up and throwing it in the garbage. Have them write their academic goals for the spring on fresh new pieces of colored paper.
Take the class outside for a walk to observe the phenomenon of spring.
Remind students that the spring grading semester or quarter is a chance for a new academic beginning. Instead of trying to motivate them to "get a good grade" remind them that they actually start with a "good grade" and only need to keep it!
Introduce an exciting spring theme like March Madness basketball, the iditerod in Alaska and Music in our Schools Month are ideas to get you started.
Ask students to help rewrite the Classroom Rules on fresh paper to be displayed in the classroom. Use this opportunity to review the rules and practice positive behaviors that support learning in the classroom.
Review study skills and organization with your students. These skills can be forgotten over the course of the school year. Allow them time to organize their notebooks and homework planners. Buy some 2008 calendar planners for those students who don't have them. Most are on sale by now.
Add some flowers and plants to your classroom. Whether students are in pre-school or high school, they can appreciate the beauty that new life brings to the environment.