Several weeks ago, I was asked to teach a class for teachers about relating with students as they return to school. This was a very interesting experience as there were about 40 teachers enrolled from all different grade levels. I developed a curriculum for four zoom sessions that focused not on curriculum but more importantly, how to engage students and create a psychologically safe classroom.
Even though it was a virtual class, they participated and supported each other with how they are managing their classes. For me, it was very educational as I had an opportunity to see how they dealt with Covid while trying to teach their lessons. Particularly helpful were seasoned teachers who shared their experiences and successes with newer and younger teachers.
Some key lessons emerged from this experience. With all the destabilization from Covid, teachers cannot just go back into the classroom and teach. It was important to first understand how Covid affected both the teachers and their students from a learning perspective.
Another focus was understanding the importance of where students and their parents were at in terms of getting them back into learning the curriculum. This included managing safety, dealing with anxiety, and lack of motivation, redefining expectations, and creating structure.
The third session dealt with ways of engaging students in the learning process and bringing constructive emotions into the learning process.
The last session dealt with creating a psychologically safe classroom, understanding how students learn during Covid, and giving and receiving student feedback.
This was a very rewarding experience for myself as well as the teachers. I am grateful I accepted this undertaking and had the opportunity to help those who are in the front lines of education during a very difficult time.