When Your Class Needs to Wake Up

One of the most difficult aspects of classroom management is early in the morning (or right after lunch) when students seem to be tired and wanting to sleep. I think most of us can remember those moments…particularly with teenagers who need a bit more sleep (due to brain re-wiring) and typically are not morning people, it is extremely difficult to wake up and be on task for some of the projects and issues that should be happening in a classroom.

Moving students from inertia to cognitive brain

tired student needs a brain break
Wake up students for learning with group brain breaks. (photo courtesy of

If you have been following my blog, you will note that I have been sharing brain-based interventions…helping students regulate to their cognitive brain, be more focused and learn more effectively.

Group brain-breaks to wake-up students

Sometimes it is possible and appropriate to do brain-based interventions and brain breaks one-on-one. However, often they need to be done in a group, particularly if that group is a classroom of students. Also, if students need to “wake up” you need to include body movement to encourage the brain-changes required to learn.

Here is Switch, Change, Rotate, an example of a group brain break.

Put students in a straight line, preferably 4 to 5 in the line.

When you say, “switch” the person from the front of the line moves to the back of the line.  When you say, “change” the person in the front of the line switches places with the person in the back of the line.  And when you say, “rotate” everyone turns around, making the person who was first last and last becomes first.

Rapidly call out different commands in no particular order. This helps to wake up students and prepare them to learn as their brains have to keep quickly changing roles and figure out what they need to do depending on which command you call out.

This brain-break is yet another good example of how to help students regulate their brains and prepare themselves for the process of learning.

Doing these types of brain-break group exercises also enables students to work together and create sensations and stimulations that energize, and promote cooperation and focus.

Some may think this is irrelevant to education.  I would argue that this is the most caring thing we can do that will help students be much more successful in their academics.

I think all of us should use brain breaks to help us regulate, wake up and or be soothed by these types of interventions.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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