Educators across the nation are tasked with creating welcoming, positive, and loving classroom cultures for their students as they transition back to full-time, in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year.
Regardless of whether you taught in person, online, or a mix of the two this past year, helping students reconnect post-COVID will be a challenge.
Looking for ideas? Here are some strategies fellow CEAI members plan to put into action or already have implemented in their schools…
PLAN A WARM WELCOME
- Our building staff collaborated to purchase large yard signs that we placed in front of the school to welcome the students back. We also held a virtual “Meet the Teacher” event.
- I will greet my students with a big smile and encouraging words!
- I plan to greet my students in the hall near my door while fun music plays to celebrate their return to the classroom!
When our students came back to the building (after finishing up the last 2 months of the prior school year learning from home), we did not do anything special. We simply emphasized that we were back to normal. It was clear that just returning to the normal routine made our students feel secure.
- I will listen to their COVID and quarantine stories, ask how they feel about returning to school in a post-pandemic world, address their concerns to the best of my ability, and connect them to additional resources if needed.
- I plan to start and finish each week focused on the positive. I will set aside time for students to share joyful events from the weekend at the beginning of the week and time to share funny stories that took place while at school at the end of the week.
- When we went back to the classroom last school year, I wanted to encourage connection between my students, but I didn’t want to lose any instruction time. So, my class completed a get-to-know-each-other survey and then graphed the results, incorporating both interpersonal connection and the math curriculum.
- I posted questions of the day on the board for each student to answer first thing in the morning. When class started, they had to find a student they had not met before, introduce themselves, and then answer the question. I walked around and listened. At the end, I shared my answer as well as some of the answers I heard.
- I am going to intentionally connect with at least one student at the beginning or end of each class by asking questions about their life outside of my classroom (pets, chores, sports, etc.).
I will pray over my classroom before the start of the new school year as well as before the start of each school day, asking the Lord for peace, joy, safety, and the right words to share with my students.
- My students share how they're feeling each day on their way into class using a “5 fingers scale.”
- Once we returned to in-person school, we dedicated a significant amount of time to Social Emotional Learning, including weekly lessons with our school psychologist. She taught my students calming techniques, emotional check-ins, and other social situation responses. Rather than pushing academics all of the time, we allowed more time for morning meetings and interactive activities so the students had more time to relax and connect with their classmates.
- I will have my students write and decorate growth mindset statements that can then be hung around the school. Our school social worker will be connecting with my students as they work on their creative posters.
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