Thank you all for an uplifting first week of preplanning (and some good coffee this morning)! I’m sure a number of us approached our first week back at Trinity with some trepidation. While our responsibility of welcoming back our students awaits us next week, I hope all of you felt some normalcy this week as we settled back into the routine of school even as we wore face coverings, social distanced, met virtually, and operated under our PRP guidelines. For me, it just felt good to be back at school!
For those of you new to Trinity, every Friday during the school year, I like to send out an educational article that recently caught my attention and that I hope provokes thought in you.
As we live in fast-paced times, we’ve grown accustomed to the character limit of Twitter and the short videos on YouTube. Hence, I edit down the article to its most salient points so it’s a quick read. (If available, I link the full article.)
I try to find articles applicable to early childhood/elementary education.
I don’t agree with every article. I know we live in polarized political times where there is little tolerance for the opposing position. I, however, don’t confine myself to only one side in politics or in education. In fact, I especially like articles that make me think, ask me to reflect on my educational beliefs, and even confront my educational biases. As we discussed in our DEI session this week, a little cognitive dissonance is good for us!
The first article summary of the year is How Teachers Can Help Students Transition Back to School.
Just as many of us were anxious to return to school this week, many of our students will be next week as well. This article is a reminder that in the first weeks of school—especially necessary this year—we need to attend to our students’ social-emotional, affective needs. Academic development, achievement, and application are buoyed from our students’ emotional and physical safety, comfort, and trust we establish with them. One of the reasons I am so happy that we can begin the year with in-person school is we get the opportunity to see, interact, and connect, and get to know our students as we create a caring, responsible, and respectful community in our classrooms and throughout the school. As I heard in a number of meetings this week, we need to devote the first weeks of school to building relationships and routines. No matter our age, we all need routines, consistency, and emotional security in our lives.
Thanks again for such a great first week of energy, conviction, and community!
Enjoy the last weekend of summer!
The return to full-time, face-to-face learning in schools is an exciting time for students and teachers and, no doubt, a blessed relief for many parents. It is also a critical time regarding maximizing learning opportunities, both during and after this transition.
Here are some tips and suggestions to support school communities in managing this transition back to school for all students, and particularly those with additional needs.
Routine and Structure: A return to regular school and learning routines will be like a comfy warm winter blanket for all students. Kids thrive off known boundaries and predictable daily routines.
Harness Self-Isolation Experiences to Build Student Confidence: The unprecedented level of responsibility that school students of all ages have had to embrace, is worth both celebrating and harnessing. Discussing this early in the year with your students can instill confidence in their self-direction capabilities. Moreover, building on these new levels of confidence and autonomy is another way for teachers to show they genuinely care for their students, creating a safe and supportive learning environment where students are challenged to strive for success.
Planning for Inclusion And Reducing Anxiety: Clear communication and planning are ways to reduce anxiety around the transition process for everyone. All teachers are taking the time to think and plan for the integration of COVID-19 restrictions within previously established classroom routines. At an instructional level, planning for inclusion by designing teaching and learning activities to cater for the needs all students has never been more important than now. The need to differentiate classroom learning will be greater now than before. By showing empathy to our students (as in ‘we’re all in this together’) and acknowledging the difficulties faced during self-isolation, we can support them.
Share and Explore Home Learning Experiences: Making time to explore and learn about our students’ experiences, particularly home-learning experiences, will be an important part of this initial transition. Our students will need time and space to readjust to school-based learning. We all learn by thinking about, and reflecting on, things we have experienced and done in our lives. Simply talking with children about their understandings and what they know about COVID is important. This is not a ‘one-off’ chat, children learn with repeated chats over time.
A New School-Family Relationship: COVID-19 has created so many complexities, insecurities, and anxieties. We have all been trying to balance and deal with the impacts on our own work from home lives. Happily, this has created more parent understanding and empathy for the work of teachers, and vice versa. Greater parent understanding of content could facilitate establishment of more meaningful student learning goals and better support systems at home..