5 Tips for Educators to Transition Back to School During COVID-19

Posted by on Aug 1, 2020 | Comments Off on 5 Tips for Educators to Transition Back to School During COVID-19

5 Tips for Educators to Transition Back to School During COVID-19

It can be hard to return to school on a normal year, and this year is far from normal. This upcoming school year looks very different than anything we, or students, have experienced. Understandably, this makes transitioning back to school more challenging. Here are 5 tips to help ease the back-to-school shift. 

1. Create Routine and Structure

Routines provide youth with structure. They help students to manage their time and to know what to expect for the day. Structure eases their anxieties during a time when a lot about school feels uncertain. Start each school day with an activity or discussion to help them mentally transition from home to school. Create a visual schedule that they can reference for lesson subjects, times, and deadlines. Try to keep things as consistent as possible and when things are different, let students know ahead of time and mark it clearly on the schedule.

2. Establish Clear, Consistent Communication

Students are taking on more responsibilities with navigating and tracking assignments and school-related information. Make it easier for them and create a clear and consistent way to communicate with them. Clearly lay out where assignments can be found and how to access them. Provide students with an easy way to contact you in case they have questions. Also, practice supportive communication with them. Plan to have conversations about both school work and their general emotional state as they navigate school life during COVID. Validate their feelings and recognize that every student will have different emotions.

3. Anticipate and Address Students’ Needs

Students have a variety of feelings about COVID and school. Some may be anxious or fearful while others may feel exhausted. And some may be excited to return to “normal.” Regardless, they’re actively experiencing COVID in their lives which will impact how they interact with school. Some discussion questions could include:

  • What are some of the positives that you’ve experienced during COVID?
  • What are some things that have been challenging for you?
  • How have you been taking care of yourself and your needs?

Anticipate that students will want to talk about COVID and how it has impacted them. Plan to provide space for students to safely process those thoughts. Consider incorporating check-in activities and discussions about COVID and school. Calmly and honestly acknowledge students’ experiences. If appropriate, consider incorporating COVID realities into lessons or discussions with students. This validates their emotions and their different experiences in a way that builds empathy and community.

4. Create a Plan to Address Anxiety

Recognize that anxiety can greatly impact students’ abilities to focus and be present at school. Plan to support students coping with anxiety. Incorporate activities that teach self-care, mindfulness, and things within students’ control. (Activities should emphasize ongoing practice of self-care and self-kindness.) A few examples include creating a self-care plan, regular journaling, or deep breathing. For more examples of practicing mindfulness in the classroom check out our other post.

5. Continue to Develop Social-Emotional Learning

Reinforce social-emotional learning with activities and discussions. Social-emotional skills such as collaboration, communication, emotional awareness and empathy can be incorporated into existing lessons. Consider activities that develop these skills and allow students to practice them. Social emotional skills improve students’ ability to combat the negative impacts of COVID. Ophelia’s Place provides presentations and empowerment groups that teach and develop social emotional skills. For a full list of topics see our website.

Transitioning back to school isn’t easy. Remember that we’re all adapting to a new way of school. Be gentle with yourself and continue to be present and empathetic with your students. For more educator resources check out our other blog posts or email us at info@opheliasplace.net for our staff training resources.