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3 Way To Help Students Transition Back To School
By Dr. Saadia Asif

The educationists at Cahpterhouse Education are fully aware that it is not easy for students to get used to their back to school routine. With school reopening’s now truly underway, it is important that as educators and parents we remember that getting back into the traditional model of education is not going to be easy.  During the lockdown, many schools shifted to some form of online education whether synchronous (in the form of live online classes) or asynchronous (with lecture recordings and homework assignments) or a combination of the two.

As educators, we took a certain level of pride in our ability to adapt quickly to unprecedented circumstances. Students have now been away from their classrooms for over six months and while some have been able to take advantage of online education, many others have not.

So as we head back to the classroom, we must make sure that students feel safe, protected and included as they come back to school. We must take all necessary precautions to protect our students health, but here are a few of the challenges facing students as they get back to work, and some of the ways we can  overcome them. Chapterhouse Blog shares 3 ways to help students transition back to school.

MAKING SURE NO ONE GETS LEFT BEHIND

As we start our face to face classes, we must realize that not all our students are returning to the classroom at the same academic level.  The first step is to make sure that we identify where our students stand and then develop a teaching approach that does not leave the more vulnerable among them behind as we move forward.  A few steps to take for this are:

1- Conduct quick assessments as students return to understand the academic level at which they are returning to class.

2- Creating mini-pods within each class to group students at different learning levels together and creating semi-customized lessons for them.

3- Develop a formal review program to help students revisit concepts and highlight any problems that they are facing and resolve them quickly to enable them to progress.

MAKING STUDENTS FEEL SAFE

The past months have been tough for parents and children alike.  But it would be short-sighted to assume that a simple physical return to school will put an end to the concerns we all have.  Children hear and see everything – whether it is a concern about another closure, the possibility of getting sick or even a parents financial worries.

As we get back to classes, it is essential that we take the time to really speak to our returning students about their thoughts and feelings. How do they feel about coming back to school? Are they scared? Happy? Uncertain? As educators we must take the time to help students articulate their feelings and do our best to allay any fears that they may have in partnership with their parents.  A couple of ways we can do this are:

1- Extending Circle Time: At the lower primary school level we can extend circle time and spend some more time talking and sharing experiences. This gives students, especially younger ones a way of getting their feelings out and also remember the importance of listening to one another.

2- Talking Exercises: At the primary and middle school level, creating shared talking exercises, where students partner-up on small projects (while still maintaining key social distancing rules) as a way of re-establishing trust. It also creates an opportunity for the quieter students to make their voices heard.

MAKING FRIENDS AGAIN

With over six months of lockdowns and relative isolation due to social distancing, many of the friendships that students rely on in school have become strained or broken completely.  Especially for younger students for whom social media has not been an option.  In many cases we will find students struggling with social interactions (made more challenging by some of the rules that continue to be in place regarding playtimes).  Bullying can also be a risk as individual students may be seen as easy targets.  It is important for teachers to create managed situations in class where students can come together to solve problems and work on projects in a safe manner and rebuild some of their lost connections.

SO LET’S GET TO WORK

As we get back to school, it is important for all of us to remember that we are now living a new normal. We must give students time to find their way back to the daily routine, allow them to re-establish their previous friendships and remember what it is like to work together rather than alone.  It is important to get caught up with school work, but in a way that caters to the different experiences that students have had during the lockdown. You can also read our 6 key lessons learned during lockdown. Parents endorse the fact that Chapterhouse Education always strives for the well being of the children at school. It is critical that we create a positive, hopeful environment for our students.