After 3 plus months of phases of online learning, lockdowns, hazmat suits coming into my home to give me the test and scaring my neighbors, social distancing, panic, and all the stresses that were engulfed in those experiences; we are back at school, back to a sense of normalcy....right???
Not quite the explanation I have ready for you. However, there are definitely some things you should be made aware of and prepare yourself for as well as be excited about.
Going back to school after pandemic clearance is beautiful, exhausting, testing, simple, and youthful all at the same time. I call it the BETSY BALL.
The kids, the kids, the kids. I cannot describe the pure feeling of joy I had when I saw my students, my athletes, and even kids I don't coach or teach but know them well. It is really really hard to keep that distance and show them zero embrace but they can see your love, care, and excitement in that small space between your hairline and the top of your facemask. They are so happy to be moving once again and to see people they care so much about.
Think about how sluggish you feel the first week of school after the summer.....ok, no ADD 9 more weeks to that. Oh my, you are going to be gutted when you get home from school each and every day week 1. This is all ok! The crazy thing is when you are at school in your classes you are on fire with energy, and it feels amazing. Put your energy into your kids and towards the end of the week your levels of energy at home will begin to rise and things will begin to get back on the right path.
I know this is a strong word, so let's dumb it down to scary. It's a scary time and people are internally frightened including myself, teachers, and especially students. You will really need to take the time to check in with your students. It will not be your traditional physed class, you need a lot of room for conversation and reflection. Being considerate if a student needs a mental break or to step away from an activity.
Do not over plan and try to create the next big thing. Focus on what your students need; movement, a sense of belonging, a sense of community, and the ability to share ideas and communicate off-screen.
Put yourself in the shoes of a student constantly. Of course, utilize student choice, but understand how they are feeling and classroom management may need a beginning of the year type of reset. Let them be kids for a bit, let them make mistakes, let them goof around, as long as they are being safe and social distance. I start each class by allowing them to move freely for the first minute and then we jump into it. Also, realize that they may be out of shape, and masks are a pain to wear with exercise. You MUST allow for frequent water and shade breaks. Again you are in the mindset of a kid in order to understand what they are going through.