10 considerations for educators when engaging students who are returning back to school after remote schooling, after the lines between home and school were blurred with learning from home:
- Students have been out of a formal routine, so be patient. If they take a little longer at the bags, or putting rubbish in the bin, or transitioning from one task to another, or answering a question… be patient.
- Students’ nerves are heightened from the unprecedented experience of learning through lockdown, so be sensitive to their behaviours, words, and responses. Think empathy and compassion.
- Students have missed being with their friends so intentionally provide many opportunities for them to socialize. That is, in the classroom, to hear their friends speak, and to be listened to by their friends. To share with peers, and learn from them again.
- Students are showing up by physically coming to school, don’t be critical of perceived closed behaviours. Make them feel like they belong, go through some calming strategies, investigate the trigger and provide support.
- Students have their own individual learning needs, don’t compare them. Celebrate them, at their point of need. One student may write in perfect sentences, while another is struggling with basic sight word spelling, in the same class.
- Students need to learn self-compassion and intrinsic motivation. Help students celebrate their own learning (as opposed to you giving positive reinforcement all the time). I keep a set of stamps and students know they can stamp their work themselves for their own efforts.
- Spend time celebrating their efforts as feedback, and gauge which student will receive feed-forward in a healthy way. Some students may receive feed-forward as a downer and then disengage. Be mindful about how you provide feedback.
- Students can be anxious about approaching other children again, striking a conversation, and building new friendships. Be observant about who students are playing with during recess and lunch. Are any of your students sitting alone? Perhaps they don’t know how to approach a peer, or they feel too nervous to take this action by themselves?
- Students want to feel connected again. Spend the time to do whole-class-bonding activities where students can get to understand that they are integral to the function of the whole class. They form a key link in the chain of the class-team. Every link contributes to the collective strength of the chain.
- Students need to rebuild school culture alongside teachers. Take the time to highlight how students are demonstrating various school values (e.g. respect, resilience, kindness, effort, and creativity) in the most simple ways, to the most thoughtful. Be sure to model these yourself, too.
It’s about bringing our students back together and rebuilding safe-spaces to enjoy learning together.