2020 was an unprecedented year for the education system as a whole but especially for teachers and students – especially for the younger age groups. Not only is it imperative to learn amongst your peers at any age, but having to switch to remote learning only caters to certain learning styles. If you’re a tactile or hands-on learner, the lessons and activities have unintentionally favored auditory or visual learners by nature of video classes, virtual assignments, and so forth. We overlook kinetic activities, such as science experiments or art projects, and table them for later.
Well, “later” is on the horizon with schools implementing hybrid classes or fully going back to in-person learning, but it’ll still take some time before that feels normal. Today we want to go over making in-person learning feel not only “normal” but safe and enjoyable for all involved. Parents should feel safe sending their children back to school, children should feel safe in the classroom amongst their peers, and teachers should feel safe being on the frontlines. We don’t think anyone has looked forward to school (as we knew it) as much as our students are right now, having completed several semesters virtually.
School Safety First
Upon the return to school, we must take CDC precautions and guidelines seriously, even after the vaccine is well distributed.
Sometimes it’s hard to stay exactly six feet away, especially when arranging the tables and desks in the classroom, but we’ve all seen how fast illnesses pass through a school during cold and flu season; why would anyone think COVID-19 is any different? Some schools have tried spacing out desks by three feet if their students are vigilant about mask-wearing, sanitizing, and staying home upon symptoms or potential contraction of the virus, but that’s a difficult pill to swallow for certain age groups, so we suggest sticking as close to six feet as possible.
We also recommend utilizing whatever large spaces and outdoor areas (depending on the season) you have access to. While going outside used to be a treat (with younger kids associating outside time with recess), it can be worked into a safe space for learning. It won’t always be perfect, but for free reading, group work, and certain lessons/lectures, it’s better than spending all your time in one stuffy classroom.
Hygiene & More
Going back to the basics, proper handwashing is key. Few people wash their hands properly (excluding food industry workers and medical workers from this generalization) with the right water temperature and for the correct amount of time, and children learn by example. Teachers, you must teach proper handwashing and provide hand sanitizer and cleaning procedures to lead by example. Parents, you do the same, so that your kids will know proper cleanliness and hygiene when returning to school.
Mask-wearing is another habit we should all know by now, but let’s take a closer look. Too often we see people at grocery stores wearing their masks under their noses. The school-going age is our next generation, which means again, we need to lead by example. Children are some of the best at wearing their masks because they don’t want their friends and family to get sick, which should be the way teachers and parents frame the behavior.
These two points are specific to pandemic behavior, but of course, schools should implement more depending on the region or circumstances. Schools should provide options for high-risk teachers and students, implement routines that reduce the potential for spread (like having teachers change classroom seating rather than the hoards of students), and maintain proper disinfecting procedures on high-traffic areas like door handles, faucets, etc.
How to Enjoy In-Person Learning
Now for the brighter side of things. Anyone – inside and outside the classroom – has something to share and something to learn. That’s why teachers and administrators should include their students (where possible) because it adds like-mindedness that other students might take to.
For instance, allow students to make some choices about how they’re learning. Adding choice into their learning environment can encourage students to engage with what’s happening more so than simply being told what to do left and right. Younger children, especially, don’t get much say in what goes on, so teaching them responsibility through their own, small choices at any age is a great thing to implement when you return to school. For example, you could let them choose what book the class reads, what activities coincide with the lesson, or perhaps how to navigate group work.
Breaking things up is another way to make in-person learning more enjoyable. Don’t “power through” lessons as much as we did before; instead, opt for some brain breaks, moments to stretch and walk around, or even time to get fresh air. Mixing things up can allow students to feel rejuvenated and think on their own about the subject for a moment. Allowing them to think and discuss on their own, even for brief amounts of time, can be far more beneficial than an instructional video or lengthy lecture. If students know a brain break or opportunity to move around is coming, they may also be more willing to engage in lessons.
Think of it this way: the last 10 minutes of a class are the least productive because people are ready to go, especially in lecture-based classes with no breaks. Instead, if you give a break or two throughout the hour+ lesson, the students may feel like class goes by faster (always a plus in students’ eyes). Similarly, don’t be afraid to end class early when we return to school normally, as it will give students time to chat, work on projects for other subjects, or read on their own.
1st Place Spiritwear Understands What Educators Are Going Through
The world was thrown for a loop when the virus breached shores across the globe. Not only were businesses affected, but education suffered, too. Since we’re a business related to education, we feel empathetic on both sides. Teachers, parents, and students have gone through much to continue learning rather than putting a pause on everything. Some students – college and high school, particularly – missed out on graduation ceremonies and celebrations while other grades missed out on extracurriculars and athletics.
With unique circumstances come unique opportunities, which is where we come in. 1st Place Spiritwear has put together a blog filled with education-related topics for students, parents, teachers, and administrators alike. Not only that, but we’ve perfected online fundraising if that’s something your school or organization needs. At the end of the day, we want to focus on school spirit through our unique spiritwear designs (we have over 200 per school!), because we could all use a little light and spirit during this difficult time.
Whether you’re doing remote or in-person learning, do so in style with a 1st Place Spiritwear shirt designed with your school in mind, from its name and logo to the colors and mascot.