The 20-21 School year for many students involved isolation. Even in the classroom kids weren’t allowed to work in groups without wearing a mask or having a shield. Imagine trying to collaborate with your classmates while wearing a mask the entire time. Students withdrew or acted out due to frustration. School was hard for many students.
Students will come back to school in the 21-22 school year without consistency of how to “do school,” especially those first graders who have never had a normal school year. I believe kids are resilient and adaptable which they proved throughout our COVID pandemic. Now is our chance to teach them that school can be interactive again!
So, as educators, how can we prepare to connect with our students? How can we prepare them for collaboration and engagement with one another? Students need to know and understand that school is their safe place to learn about the world around them. They need opportunities to communicate, collaborate, and engage with one another daily. To prepare for this, we need to make sure students have safety and structure.
How can we build safety and structure into our classroom routines? Through intentional classroom management and strategic relationship building. Here are my Top 3 resources for building classroom safety, structure, and communication.
Hacking School Discipline by Nathan Manyard and Brad Weinstein outlines 9 ways to create a culture of empathy and responsibility within your classroom using restorative justice. It is a great resource to learn how to help students feel seen and heard. It’s is a quick easy read, with immediate applications to the classroom. They also provide downloaded resources that can be used within the first semester of school.
CHAMPS is another resource that helps build relationships and structure within, not only classrooms, but the whole campus. This resource and training offers an “all-in” attitude to change the climate of a school. This structure establishes clear expectations using ideas similar to love and logic*. Students are motivated to participate, feel empowered to engage, and safe to take risks within their learning.
Restorative Circles are another method of building relationships, providing safety for kids to express themselves and learn about one another. They build classroom community as they show students how to communicate and listen in a structured manner about their passions, their concerns, their hopes. This practice opens conversations that lead to community-building within the classrooms.
I challenge you to pick at least 1 of these resources to research further. As you dig into it, think of how you could apply some of these ideas and structures into your classroom for the 21-22 school year. What would your first week of school look like? How will you build community, safety, collaboration, and engagement? I would love to hear your ideas and feedback!
*Love & Logic Reference (linked here)