Welcome back! We understand that the beginning of the school year can be one of the most hectic times for educators, especially in the current climate of the world. A post(ish)-COVID classroom might take students some time to adjust to as they transition back to the normalcy of full-time, in-classroom learning for the new school year—but not to worry! Even though the world of in-person education is only starting to get back on its feet, there are many ways to alleviate the stress of prepping for the new school year. To help minimize the pressures and help maximize efficient preparation, we have compiled a list of different ways to help prepare for the new post-COVID school year!
Tip #1 - Organize Your School Year With Planning Tools
As we begin to re-enter the post-COVID classroom, nothing says prepared like starting the school year fresh with new classroom management tools to plan out and organize your classroom setups, roster, schedules, and more.
Purchase a new planner and record book to help with structuring lesson plans, storing contact information for students, creating classroom layouts, recording attendance and grades, and more. Planners and record books provide easy access to important information you may need to reference throughout the school year, and with a wide variety of designs to choose from, there's sure to be one that fits your planning and classroom style.
Another thing to consider is that district guidelines may shift as we continue to power through this pandemic. To combat this, each planner comes with additional scheduling pages and note sections that allow for easy adjustments in the event that COVID protocols change and require you to pivot your previous plans.
Tip #2 - Encourage Masks!
While the CDC states that those who are fully vaccinated no longer have to wear masks, many states still have mandates in place that require them to be worn within the limits of certain buildings, with schools being heavily regulated. In addition, some states are still in the roll-out phase of their vaccine plans, so younger children may not be quite eligible yet to be fully vaccinated.
Keeping your students safe during these difficult times is always going to be a priority. However, there is always the (more than likely) chance that a child will lose their mask, get it messy, or break in some sort of capacity. Consider keeping a set of masks on hand in your classroom in case of an emergency to maintain a safe environment for you and your students. You can even pick a set with multiple colors or patterns to make mask-wearing a little more fun with something that fits their styles or personalities!
Tip #3 - Promote Classroom Hygiene in an Engaging Way
On top of wearing a mask, one of the most important things you can do to prepare your classroom for in-person teaching is to initiate a culture of hygiene, but in a fun and engaging way that motivates students to get in the swing of a new routine.
Our One World Health and Safety Products line encourages this positive behavior through a variety of visual cues, including brightly-colored posters with slogans like "Air Fives Not High Fives" and "How To Wash Your Hands". Not only do these posters capture the attention of children with vibrant illustrations and designs, but they also use easy-to-understand language so all ages can learn proper hygiene techniques.
In addition to posters, incentivizing students to keep their spaces clean through job bulletin boards can promote great hygienic habits while also boosting motivation. For example, assigning students jobs like wiping down desks or refilling soap dispensers will help reinforce a beneficial work ethic amongst children in the classroom and beyond.
Tip #4 - Include Ground Markers
Signs and ground markers are also a great tool for preparing the post-COVID classroom. As we all know, the classroom can become incredibly hectic at a moment's notice. Placing colorful ground markers in a directional order around the classroom can keep students organized (and also maintain a social distance if need be) while using creative and fun designs that students will love to follow.
Ground markers are especially durable, and can survive the damage that a floor can sustain from a full classroom. The bright colors provide a clear directional message that even the youngest of students can understand while helping to maintain order in and around your classroom.
Tip #5 - Stay Organized and Informed
As you prepare to return to normalcy in the classroom, incorporating a calendar bulletin board set in your learning environment is a great way to help your students visualize all of your daily (and future!) lesson plans, schedules, and events while being easily adjustable as schedules and regulations shift and/or change.
These calendar sets also provide great opportunities to help students learn important dates, classroom birthdays, and essential holidays. Calendar sets also provide essential organizational skills likes scheduling, learning the days of the weeks and months, and managing a calendar. A calendar set will quickly become the cornerstone of the classroom, and its ability to be easily adjusted will help everyone stay informed.
Tip #6 - Incorporate Inclusivity in the Classroom
Creating an inclusive environment where all students feel welcome can be done in a number of ways. Whether it be through classroom décor or visual reminders, representation shows students the value of equality and encourages them to treat others who are different from them with kindness and inclusivity.
Our All Are Welcome collection motivates students to celebrate kindness and diversity in and out of the classroom. This collection includes vibrant posters with quotes such as "Everyone Belongs" and "Everyone Has a Story. Listen.", as well as bulletin board sets with depictions of children from a variety of backgrounds. Filling your space with encouraging messages and multicultural representation helps students feel seen and included, and teaches children the importance of accepting others for who they are.
Tip #7 - Incorporate Technology in the Classroom
Prior to the pandemic, many classrooms were experimenting with hybrid learning by integrating more technology into their lessons. Come early 2020, every classroom began practicing online learning. Even though we are beginning to enter a post-COVID classroom, many instructors are still using this blended form of teaching as a result of the pandemic, and it is evident that it is beneficial for both teachers and students.
As students have become familiarized with (and used to) online learning, creating lesson plans that involve some sort of technology is a great way to help students easily transition back into the classroom with ease. You can even incorporate iPads during instruction and use tools such as an iPad stand during lessons from the classroom. eBooks are also a great learning resource for children, including subject-specific workbooks, activity books, resource books, storybooks, and more!
Tip #8 - Acknowledge Good Behavior With Reward Stickers
Finally, as we all know, rewarding good behavior in the classroom, whether it be social skills, homework, sharing, or helping others, is a great way to motivate students to maintain good behavioral skills and to work hard. It can be difficult for students to adjust to an in-person classroom experience while following these new rules, so giving out small honors like reward stickers help let students know they are doing a good job. Using our vibrant stickers with motivational phrases like "Brilliant Work!" and "Star Student" encourages students to create an all-around positive classroom environment where they are eager to try their best. Not only that, but kids will love to show them off, too!
As many aspects of our day-to-day lives start to transition back to normal, use these tips and strategies to help make the back-to-school transition seamless for both you and your students, while keeping your classroom as safe as possible in fun and creative ways. We wish you the best of luck as you prepare for this upcoming school year!