As your students begin to return to the classroom after spending time learning at home, you may find teaching to be a whole new ball game. Some parents may have chosen to homeschool their children rather than sending them to in-person learning, while others may have been engaged in a fully online or remote learning experience. Either way, students who are returning to the classroom are not the same students who left. As students return, it’s important to keep them safe and engaged while relearning the rules of the classroom.

Reteaching the Rules

Many students returning to the classroom have not attended in-person learning for over a year and a half. This means no sitting at a desk all day, no quietly paying attention, and no participating in group work. These students, especially if they’re young, may return to school looking like they have some major behavioral or attentional problems. However, it’s likely that they’ve simply forgotten how to sit at a desk quietly and attend to a task.

Students may have to be retaught that they need to stay at their desks. You may have to set firm expectations about remaining quiet during work time or getting work done as expected. Additionally, many students may require additional support to participate in social activities like group projects, recess, or lunch. Over time, students will reacclimate to being in a classroom setting. However, it’s likely they’ll first have to relearn the rules.

Keeping Students Engaged

For students who have spent the last year and a half learning through a screen, it may be more difficult to keep them engaged with a pencil and paper. As a result, it’s important to balance learning with engagement. Here are a few things you can do to keep kids engaged.

  1. Provide mental breaks: Giving kids mental breaks throughout the day will help keep them more engaged during work time. This may mean time for extra play, physical activity or sensory input. Students may simply need time to color, talk, or daydream.
  2. Bring the technology to the classroom: Since students have become used to using technology to learn, there’s nothing wrong with bringing the technology back to the classroom. If there was a favorite program or activity that they did online at home, incorporate it into your daily routine.
  3. Change up your environment: If the classroom is getting boring, move it around to keep things more engaging. Consider bringing a new item for learning each day. Things that are new tend to keep kids more engaged.

Navigating Post-Covid Environments

Although students are back in person to learn, it’s still important to keep them safe. Here are a few ways to keep your classroom safe:

  1. Sanitize: Cleaning will help reduce the risk for nasty bugs to spread. Be sure to wipe down high-touch surfaces.
  2. Keep classroom groups consistent: If your kids work in groups, keep these groups consistent.
  3. Encourage social distancing as much as possible.