Senioritis: What It Is and How to Deal With It

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After 12 years in the classroom teaching high school seniors, senioritis is just one of those things I am used to dealing with but I never thought much about it until one of my good friends started teaching seniors this year and was baffled at how bad the senioritis was. She asked me one day, “how do you deal with it?” This got me thinking and reflecting: 
How have I dealt with it for all these years?  

For those of you unfamiliar with the term senioritis, let me explain…
Basically this is a term for the attitude and behavior that a lot of high school seniors exhibit, specifically things like apathy, anxiety, and lack of focus. These attitudes and behaviors can start to manifest during early senior year but typically get worse the closer to graduation that students get. It is very difficult to get them engaged, focused, and working hard the closer and closer they get to the finish line. They are so excited and ready to get out of high school that you often see grades slip and even those overachieving students aren’t as interested and often don’t care as much about their grades as they did earlier in the year. They know that they have already been accepted to college and received their scholarships so a lot of students struggle to see the need to work so hard that last semester.
Click HERE to see a funny I found about Senioritis and the symptoms.  
So what is a teacher left to do as these attitudes and behavior get worse and worse as the year goes on?
Here are a few suggestions and tips that I use. I don’t claim to be the “expert” on teaching seniors but after over a decade of dealing with this issue, I have found some ways that help me get through it without losing my sanity!
  1. Save your most engaging units for after Spring Break. I teach United States Government and have to cover Supreme Court cases that deal with Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. I always save this for my LAST unit because students LOVE discussing this topic. 
  2. Let them move around, talk, and work together. Students are anxious and having them sit in a desk all day just adds to it. Find activities that enable them to move around the room. They are especially social during this time but just make sure there is a purpose to their talking. Incorporating debates, discussions, group projects, etc. are perfect for this time of year.
  3. Plan your course out to where you have extra time at the end of the year. Something that might have taken two class periods in September will most likely take 4 in April. What it boils down to is that the kids just aren’t working as quickly. This isn’t an excuse or justification by any means but if you are like me, you get annoyed if you don’t plan enough time to get activities completed. I always allot more time than necessary to complete an activity this time of year. If we get done early, EXCELLENT! Then we can do an additional activity that I didn’t think we would have time for! BUT if we don’t get done early, I have allotted enough time to do what we need to do.  
  4. Don’t give homework. There really isn’t much point in giving homework in April and May. I promise you that it will only frustrate you and lower their grades. Try to keep most work done in class if at all possible. If you can’t, at least try to keep the homework to really necessary work that the students see as valuable instead of “busy” work.
  5. Remember that despite what these seniors and even some adults think, these students are really not adults yet. Emotions will run high during this time. I have seen more fights between students, teachers, and parents occur during the finally months of school than any other time. Students and parents are dealing with all sorts of emotions during this time and teachers are dealing with exhaustion. As a result, you have to try to stay as calm as possible and remind students to do the same.
Try to stay away from this Senioritis. It is truly contagious and I have been guilty of contracting it myself! It is even worse when you get it as a teacher!!!
I hope that every has a relaxing and successful end of the school year!

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