Teachers: we sincerely hope you were able to take some well-deserved time off this summer. The past two school years have asked too much of you. And right around the corner is the beginning of something new…a new classroom of kids, new challenges, new successes. Although we continue to face many unknowns this school year, here are a few ideas help craft a smooth transition and a strong start for your students and yourself.
Welcome your students: Just like us adults, they will be feeling a rollercoaster of emotions this new school year. Explicitly validate their feelings of both nervousness and excitement so they know that they are wholly welcome. Here are some great read aloud books to help students feel welcome and at ease during this time of new beginnings. This art activity is designed to help students process changes.
Create meaningful jobs: All kids need to know that their efforts towards the well-being of the classroom community are important. How will you and your students decide what jobs will be done each day and by whom? How will jobs shift and how often? How will kids check to see which job will be theirs each week?
Build community: Children need to feel safe and connected before they can learn. Knowing that, plan activities that promote the fostering of relationships between you and your students and between the students themselves. Time spent playing name games and other community building activities can set the stage for learning. Start the routine of having class meetings, which are a powerful structure for building community with students.
Parents and caregivers as partners: How will you keep in touch with parents and caregivers? Including parents in the community will help you learn from them about how to best support their children. Here’s one idea: share this SEL at Home PDF as a way to start a conversation about practicing the SEL skills learned at school at home.
Plan to support your mental, physical, and emotional well-being: We talk so much about self-care, and it can seem tone deaf when you are working in a situation that requires too much of you. And yet, you are your primary teaching tool. You need to take care of yourself so that you can be there for your students. This article shares some tips for teachers to practice self-care during the pandemic. Try to avoid over-extending yourself as well. Set some boundaries at the beginning of this school year to hopefully avoid stress later on.
We’re all experiencing a wide range of emotions at the start of this school year. Honor those feelings as you move forward with your students!