Making Back to School Work during the Pandemic

Let's talk about making back to school work during the pandemic. 
I know, so many towns, districts, and states are not sure what they are doing and so many things are UP IN THE AIR. But I hopefully can give you some tips, whether you are going back to school in person, in person part time/hybrid, or fully remote / distance learning. 


Getting to know students via Zoom or Distance Learning

Tips on how to get to know students, build a relationship with students, and help them to get to know each other and build classroom community if you have only video meetings. (of course most of these can be done in the classroom too). 
  1. Show and tells online (set a time limit for 30 sec-1 minute and you could do 6 or more in one virtual meeting.
  2. If possible , at the beginning, do independent or very small group (pair ) meetings once a day to help get to know students and help anxious and shy students start to feel comfortable with their new teacher.
  3. Talent show - This may take more organizing and planing, but like show and tell, everyone could have 30 seconds to a minute to show a talent to the group.
  4. Class get to know you questions - I have sat  with my class in person and done these in the past (here's a freebie) but they are incorporated digitally in the Digital Second (and third) Grade Back to School Kits (see the bottom of the post). You could share your screen, as a slide show as go around and each student gets the next question on the slide. They are fun, like "what is your favorite breakfast cereal?" and "Do you have a hobby? What is it?

SEL from Anywhere

Social emotional learning is going to be key for all students, no matter what this year. I found a few tips around the web and these could be incorporated in person or virtually. 
  1. Snack and Chat - this idea comes from the Not So Wimpy Teacher - have snack every day with a few different students and chat and get to know each other .
  2. Incorporating SEL into writing - change up your writing prompts and incorporate a social emotional piece - have them write about "What are you nervous about this year?" instead of the traditional "What do you want to learn in __ grade?" Other ideas might be - "How are you feeling today?" "What makes you happy?" "What makes you mad? How can you calm down?"
  3. Regular mindfulness and SEL breaks - what could this look like? Think GoNoodle breaks, Yoga 4 Classrooms card ideas, and much more
  4. Teachers Pay Teachers' blog has a whole bunch of ideas at this blog post and some can be used with distance learning.
  5. SEL for teachers website: This website is a little more academic but might be helpful to learn more about research and the latest in SEL


These books are just a few that would work well for in  helping students identity and cope with  feelings whether you are in class or reading books during a video chat.


Staying organized with your parent communication will help, whether you are in the classroom or doing remote learning. I wrote a blog post that you can check out here. A additional tip I saw was to find a balance at the beginning of the year between emailing parents all the time (think twice or more a day) and sending giant, lengthy emails less often. Parents might do better with something in between.


Also, let's not forget about US. We are important and we need to remind ourselves to be flexible and take care of our own social emotional health! Here is a self care tips for teacher post you can refer to for ideas.

Teachers Pay Teachers Resources that Can Help

I took my traditional Back to School Starter Kits for the first two weeks of school (see second grade example here) and turned some of the activities digital. You can have them all digital, all paper/PDFs, or snag a bundle of both. They include the question cards which help you get to know students, writing prompts, math quick assessments, and more.

Here are some images and brief descriptions of what you would have access to if you tried the third grade bundle (the preview of the Second Grade Back to School digital resource is at the TPT listing). There is more than I have been able to show here!

Here's an image from the digital Second Grade Back to School resource.
Clicking on these will take you to the bundles where you can get both options - printable PDFs and digital versions.

Here's a quick walk through of one of the parts of the digital resource for third grade! Just a few seconds but gives you a taste.

Click the image below to pin me for later. Let me know what you think of making back to school work during the pandemic. Can we make it work? Do any of these tips help?

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