4 Ways Teachers can Overcome Spring Fever

As the warmth of spring emerges and flowers begin to bloom, teachers often face a common challenge—spring fever. This phenomenon is where students feel distracted as they anticipate the end of the year and summer, which adversely affects their academic performance. With the right strategies, teachers can help their students remain focused and engaged in learning. 

Here are four tips, and the research base, to combat spring fever in the classroom: 

  1. Maintain a Positive Teacher–Student Relationship 

Many teachers choose this career to develop meaningful relationships with students (Lachlan et al. 2020; Watt and Richardson 2007). Positive and supportive teacher–student relationships are foundational for learning (Darling-Hammond, Schachner, and Edgerton 2020; Hattie 2023) and, as such, have been critical for recuperating unfinished learning loss owing to COVID-19 (Leech et al. 2022). Building meaningful relationships with students takes time and effort throughout the year—especially when they get a bout of spring fever. Decades later, I still remember my fourth-grade teacher asking me about my out-of-school hobby and how honored I was that she remembered and asked me about it. As teachers acknowledge students’ efforts and achievements, provide constructive feedback, and foster a sense of belonging and community—rooted in dignity, collaboration, and mutual support—students will increase investment in their learning, ultimately making it easier for them to overcome distractions. If you need support around classroom culture, take this short, Stride PD course – Classroom Culture 4: Positivity – for several ideas.

  1. Leverage Students’ Interests 

To overcome boredom or disinterest resulting from spring fever, spice up your lessons by introducing new and relevant topics and providing additional opportunities for student choice. It probably comes as no surprise, but facilitating opportunities for students to choose and voice their interests is a high-impact strategy for increasing learning outcomes (Beymer and Thomson 2015; Hattie 2023; Patall, Cooper, and Wynn 2010; Stipek 1996). If you had students complete an interest survey at the beginning of the year, then now is the time to leverage those topics! And when it comes to student choice, consider allowing students to choose a topic they want to learn about, what assignments they complete, their pace of learning, due dates, and who they work with. 

  1. Break Tasks into Manageable Chunks 

Extended focus can be a major struggle when students have spring fever. To alleviate this problem, teachers can deconstruct lessons and assignments into smaller, more manageable sections while spiraling back through this material to reinforce retention. Research on attention spans does not come to a consensus, in part because of the numerous factors that increase or decrease attention span, including neurocognitive diseases and disorders (Baghdadi, Towhidkhah, and Rajabi 2021). However, several researchers have indicated that the brain begins to lose focus after ten minutes (Godwin et al. 2016; Howie 2013; Willis 2016; Willis and Willis 2020). The literature clearly indicates that students are better able to commit information to memory when they study it in spaced intervals rather than all at once (Carpenter and DeLosh 2005; Hattie 2023; Pashler et al. 2007a, 2007b). This strategy can be valuable throughout the year but especially now.

  1. Incorporate Brain Breaks 

Brain breaks can help students release pent-up energy and improve their focus throughout the day. Physical brain breaks, such as freeze dance, stretching, or other exercises, can increase oxygen to the brain, relax tense muscles, and stimulate sensory systems or neural networks. Relaxation brain breaks, such as deep breathing exercises, brief moments of silent reflection, and visualizations, can calm students and provide comfort. Brain breaks can also incorporate content, which ultimately provides their physical benefits and ensures that academic focus is not lost. Content-related brain breaks include games with moderate physical activity such as “Swat It,” rhythmic movements, and humorous connections that give students a good belly laugh (Weslake and Christian 2015; Willis and Willis 2020). With warming temperatures, spring is the perfect time to take learning outside the traditional classroom. Instead of fighting against spring fever, you can use it to your advantage. 

Spring fever may present challenges for teachers and students alike, yet it is possible to maintain productivity and focus on the classroom. By fostering positive teacher–student relationships, breaking tasks into manageable chunks, leveraging students’ interests, and incorporating brain breaks, teachers will help students stay engaged and motivated to learn, even as the allure of spring beckons. Mixing a little creativity and some flexibility can transform spring fever into an opportunity for meaningful learning and growth. And let’s be honest—you can use these strategies not only during spring fever season but also throughout the year. 


Baghdadi, Golnaz, Farzad Towhidkhah, and Mojdeh Rajabi. 2021. Neurocognitive Mechanisms of Attention: Computational Models, Physiology, and Disease States. Cambridge: Elsevier Academic Press. 

Beymer, Patrick. N., and Margareta M. Thomson. 2015. “The Effects of Choice in the Classroom: Is There Too Little or Too Much Choice?” Support for Learning 30, no. 2: 105–120. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Patrick-Beymer/publication/280971252_The_effects_of_choice_in_the_classroom_Is_there_too_little_or_too_much_choice/links/5c619e9945851582c3e161a1/The-effects-of-choice-in-   the-classroom-Is-there-too-little-or-too-much-choice.pdf

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Darling-Hammond, Linda, Abby Schachner, and Adam K. Edgerton. 2020. “Restarting and Reinventing School: Learning in the Time of COVID and Beyond.” Learning Policy Institute. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED610890.pdf

Hattie, John. 2023. “Visible Learning Metax Database.” Last modified June 2023. https://www.visiblelearningmetax.com/Influences.  

Howie, Erin Kaye. 2013. “Classroom Exercise Breaks and Educational Outcomes in Elementary School Students.” Doctoral diss., University of South Carolina.   https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/1208/.  

Lachlan, Lisa, Lois Kimmel, Etai Mizrav, and Lynn Holdheide. “Advancing Quality Teaching for All Schools: Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on the Teaching Workforce.” Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (2020).  

Leech, Nancy L., Sophie Gullett, Miriam Howland Cummings, and Carolyn A. Haug. “The Challenges of Remote K-12 Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Differences by Grade Level.” Online Learning 26, no. 1 (2022): 245-267. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1340668.pdf.  

Mok, Magdalena Mo Ching, Ming-Kai Chin, Agata Korcz, Biljana Popeska, Christopher R. Edginton, Fatma Sacli Uzunoz, Hrvoje Podnar, et al. 2020. “Brain Breaks® Physical Activity Solutions in the Classroom and on Attitudes toward Physical Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial among Primary Students from Eight Countries.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 5: 1666. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051666.  

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Pashler, Harold, Doug Rohrer, Nicholas J. Cepeda, and Shana K. Carpenter. 2007b. “Enhancing Learning and Retarding Forgetting: Choices and Consequences.” Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 14, no. 2: 187–193. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.3758/bf03194050.pdf

Patall, Erika A., Harris Cooper, and Susan R. Wynn. 2010. “The Effectiveness and Relative Importance of Choice in the Classroom.” Journal of Educational Psychology 102, no. 4: 896–915. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/a0019545.  

Stipek, Deborah. J. 1996. “Motivation and Instruction.” In Handbook of Educational Psychology, edited by David C. Berliner and Robert C. Calfee, 85–113. Hoboken: Prentice Hall. 

Weslake, Alyssa, and Beverly J. Christian. 2015. “Brain Breaks: Help or Hindrance?” TEACH Collection of Christian Education 1, no. 1: 38–46. https://research.avondale.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=teachcollection

Watt, Helen MG, and Paul W. Richardson. “Motivational factors influencing teaching as a career choice: Development and validation of the FIT-Choice scale.” The Journal of Experiential Education 75, no. 3 (2007): 167-202. https://users.monash.edu/~hwatt/articles/Watt&Richardson_JXE2007.pdf.  

Willis, Judy. 2016. “Using Brain Breaks to Restore Students’ Focus.” Edutopia. Last modified December 7, 2016. https://www.edutopia.org/article/brain-breaks-restore-student-focus-judy-willis

Willis, Judy, and Malana Willis. 2020. Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from Neuroscience and the Classroom. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  

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