Schools across the United States have begun the process of “opening” back up for students. In some areas this means full-time, in-person learning. In others, it means 100% remote learning. In others, it means some combination of the two. Some districts are already well into whatever learning method they chose, while others are still waiting to see what works best for them.
No matter where you live or what you plan on doing with your children this academic year, we can all agree our teachers, principals, special education staff and more are going to need a lot of help make the school experience as safe, effective and emotionally supportive as possible.
Reaching out to educators via my blog page as well as in my local parents group, I learned teachers are dedicated to helping students adapt to this “new normal.” They are working through their own worries to provide parents and students with the comfort they need heading back to school.
For parents sending their kids back into the school building, teachers advise getting those students familiar with new protocols BEFORE school begins. This means practicing mask wearing for extended periods of time, making sure younger children can perform tasks like zippering and opening containers by themselves, and keeping a positive attitude about the changes to the typical classroom experience.
Teachers also hope parents will be mindful of the risks of sending sick kids to school and keep them home if need be. They also asked that families limit travel outside their community/state to minimize exposure to COVID-19.
Families choosing remote options are reminded to give their kids plent of screen breaks and to keep mindfulness in the routine. Taking a few moments to breathe and reset can do wonders.
To help students adapt to virtual learning, Jill Herzberg Morgenstern, an educator with 13 years of classroom experience and current religious school teacher, offers this advice:
“Zoom with friends/family. Have them read stories to your children virtually to practice sitting and listening, taking turns talking, muting/unmuting. Hopefully the novelty of making faces in the camera and touching all the controls will wear off! Also talk to kids about internet safety and best practices. “
Morgenstern, who will be teaching virtually for at least part of the year, also encourages parents to do what she always encourages them to do: read books, have conversations and share meals together.
Parental attitude goes a long way, as several educators noted. Explaining the need for social distancing in a factual and supportive manner can go a long way in helping students, especially younger ones, adapt to new normals in the classroom.
With new health restrictions, teachers have to work even harder this year to create a supportive learning environment for their students. As we all know, many purchase their own classroom supplies and are greatly underfunded. Though it’s not a substitute for necessary reform, you can help ease some of the burden by purchasing teacher-requested items off of Amazon. This website has curated lists from around the country. Just click on the state and class you wish to help and you will be directed to an Amazon Wish List from which to purchase items.
Whatever any of us decide, let’s keep our educators in our minds and hearts as we navigate these unchartered waters. With a little grace, patience, and understanding, we can get through this.