At a recent gathering to celebrate the life of a friend, the presider said, “The sound of talking and catching up was music to my ears!” It’s been a long time since we’ve been in school with our students teaching in-person and have listened to students connecting, laughing, and sharing. Here are our four top tips for teachers returning to the classroom this fall:
According to research by Bruce Tuckman, there are five tenets to creating positive group dynamics. Skip any of the steps and your group—or classroom--may not function in a productive way. Begin by “forming” then move on to the others: storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. The graphic below from Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships best illustrates the process of group development:
It has been said that, “Flexibility is one of the keys to a happy life.” Perhaps it is also one of the keys to a happy classroom?! Flexibility can look like working with students to adjust timelines and due dates, recognizing when students are struggling, providing peer-to-peer and teacher support, and knowing when to let things go. Cue the music!
There is nothing like a good friend to ease life’s challenges and loneliness. “Forced” friendships in the beginning of the how-do-I act-around-humans new school year can ease the transition from online to in-person school. Pair students as partners so they have a friend to check-in with each day, and as the friendships grow, slowly include academic accountability as students become comfortable in the classroom.
As educators, we can work to make things feel routine and familiar for students. Routines and familiarity breed comfort, particularly for those who are neurodiverse. If it works for the age and content area, collaborate with students to set-up schedules and routines then post the physical and electronic plans for all to see, parents and families too!
As we step back into school this fall, we wish you familiarity, friendship, flexibility, and forming—that is, high-functioning, happy, productive classrooms—and lots and lots of laughter, connection, and sharing.
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