There is light at the end of this tunnel.
Are you ready to go back to a classroom full of students in a more normal time?
Right. I asked that obvious question.
Of course you want your life back and the mundane routine. To do something predictable is certainly good for your psyche.
There will likely be adjustments to make in 2021. It will feel more and more right as you can stay open and in school.
Life will not be back to normal right away; but it will be close.
A few reminders to think about would be how to manage face to face interaction,
This may sound crazy, but our very strong desire to be back in the classroom will come with more bumps than ever before. There will be students that have given up because they couldn’t keep up with learning at home. Some will be in an entirely different economic place due to parents losing jobs or becoming sick. Some will be grieving the loss of loved ones. They will need compassion.
Catching up and establishing expectations for students will have to be worked in gradually. Many teachers, who were busily composing virtual plans in the stop-and-start climate of 2020, will begin developing solid in person plans. What must they look like?
My first suggestion is to establish new routines going forward. Classroom rules and simple interactions must still be modeled and enforced. Something as simple as where to put items can give students the sense they belong.
Secondly, really think about your interactions with students. For many of them, there has been a PTSD type of experience when it comes to school. They want a relationship with their teacher, but there is half a year gone.
How will you bring those students back into the flock? What kind of social interactions will make them feel as if they belong?
Team building games, while outside of academics, have value in forming a cohesiveness. Start your day with one and watch the changes in your classes. Break down the barriers built during the time of the pandemic, and get the students back on one team.
Finally, reach out to your colleagues. Build back the in person network. I am sure many of you are more tuned into a PLC than ever before. But now is the time to work at building real relationships either through sharing suggestions on positive and helpful methods of reorganizing to get back to how instruction is supposed to be. Get together for lunch. Have an ongoing day long potluck in the teacher’s lounge. Celebrate birthdays missed during your time out of school.
It is the humanness that we have lost.
The ability to speak and share with one another. Understanding body language or cries for help are more readily handled in real in person learning.
Human beings are social. Students crave validation with a smile, a special handshake or something that is their own connection with the teacher. Caring circles that allow students to build each other up and get to know them better can be part of a regular day.
Students crave a routine. That is the advantage of in person learning. The reliability of their instructors. These are nuances a camera cannot record.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Thanks for listening.