Since students last attended school, they’ve had their whole worlds turned upside down. Some have been in stable homes that have adapted quickly to remote learning, and had support and a sense of normalcy over the summer. But many others have been impacted by economic instability in the form of job loss of a parent, family member illness or death from COVID-19, unsafe or unstable childcare during school and summer camp closures, or all of the above.

There is no question about it – consistency and predictability were one of the first things to fly out the window when the pandemic hit. Gone were all the normal routines in a child’s life and we entered into a world of unknowns.

Children crave consistency. They need to know what to expect and they need to know that adults are reliable. While we can’t create consistency in this unpredictable world, we can create it where we have control – in the classroom (or virtual classroom).

This fall, consistency will be one of the most important ways to show up for students.

Consider these three tools for creating consistency this year.

Be consistent in how you show up.

Students aren’t the only ones facing stress. Teachers, whether back in the classroom or virtually, or some combination of both, are facing new levels of stress on top of what is already a taxing job. It’s completely understandable that teachers will have stress and anxiety, and it’s also important that teachers practice self-care and self-regulation strategies to manage these emotions so they are not passed on to students.

This is, of course, easier said than done. But teachers who show up consistently for students create a safe learning environment for students. This is not so say that you can’t have a bad day, but that you are predictable to students. They know that when they enter the classroom, they don’t have to wonder how you will act or respond to questions, or whether the mood will be playful or somber. They have an expectation that their teacher is a certain way and will be that certain way each day.

Be consistent in how you set up the environment.

Students who enter the classroom or log on to the virtual classroom should have a sense of familiarity each time. This might be as simple as teaching live lessons from the same room in your home or the same wall in the classroom each time, so students don’t have to adjust to new backgrounds every time they log on. This might mean arranging the desks in a certain way with assigned seating, and giving ample warning before switching up seating plans.

If students have personal spaces in the classroom such as spots at the carpet, cubbies or coat hooks, avoid switching anything up after they leave the classroom at the end of the day. They should return to the same environment that they left.

Be consistent in routines.

Finally, think through the day from start to finish and determine in which ways you can be as consistent as possible. A daily schedule is essential for consistency, and be sure to post it in a prominent place so students can refer to it. (For young students who don’t read yet, consider a visual schedule with pictures that demonstrate each part of the day.)

There are several touchpoints throughout the day that be grounding for students and provide consistency.

  • -Consider starting each day with a morning meeting (these can be done virtually as well!).
  • -Consider adding focused breathing throughout the day (this can be done virtually or in person!)
  • -Consider closing each day with a consistent routine, such as a shorter version of the morning meeting, a daily closing breathing activity, or any other routine that looks and feels the same each day.

It certainly isn’t easy, but with consistency we can help kids adjust back to the school environment and help them create a sense of safety and security upon which learning can occur. 

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Teacher Spotlight: N.W. Harllee Teachers Welcome Students Back (Virtually)


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