Whatever you’re experiencing, others are experiencing some measure of that uncertainty as well – including your students.
The best bet for all parties is to slow things down, gradually adapt to your new situation, and begin with lower expectations regarding what you’d like to accomplish during the first few weeks. For example, instead of overloading yourself with paperwork and grading right off the bat, give your class smaller assignments that you can check in class.
Meanwhile, take the time to show your students your kind and nurturing side, and ease them back into your classroom structures. Just like the first five years of a child’s life shapes how their brain develops, the first five weeks of your classroom life are instrumental in the way the rest of the year plays out.
Here are some thought-starters to help you get your year off on the right foot.
Establish healthy peer-to-peer connections
One of the easiest ways to create a positive and low-stress classroom environment is to encourage healthy student-to-student connections. The greater the classroom chemistry, the more you’ll accomplish and the fewer fires you’ll have to put out. And let’s be honest, we all know by now that it’s just as important for kids to develop healthy social skills as any of the traditional academic accomplishments. Set aside time for a fun and interactive icebreaker game every now and again – not just during the first week of school when everyone is still learning each other’s names but throughout the weeks and months ahead.
Getting to know you bingo is a fun game that works well for children of all ages – you can download printable cards or get blank bingo cards and fill in the squares based on what you already know about each of your students. Another idea that coordinates seamlessly with a number of Snow Cloud’s life-readiness EdTech platforms is to have students interview each other about their favourite things, their life at home or what they want to be when they grow up. After the interview, have each member of the pair introduce their interview subject to the rest of the class
Connect with the parents
The start of the school year isn’t just about getting to know all the students but getting to know the parents, too.
Effective education requires collaboration. When you have a healthy relationship with each of your children’s parents, they can become an incredibly vital and productive part of your overall support network. If your school has a back-to-school night, make sure to spend quality time with each parent, listen attentively and even jot down some notes afterward so you can remember more of what was said. Another icebreaker is to have each student create a short essay or video talking about what they are most excited to learn about during the upcoming year and share it with their parents. This tactic is a great way to get everyone’s excitement level up while building that initial connection between their child, the classroom and you.
Have a nutritious lunch
One of the best ways to manage your stress and support your mental health is to eat well and bring pre-made lunches to school.
A healthy and nutritious lunch will give you that mid-day energy infusion you need while eating at school instead of rushing out for fast food will buy you extra time to connect with co-workers in the lunchroom. Just like your traditional “go on a diet” New Year’s resolution, kick-starting this healthy habit has a greater chance to stick if you begin on your new-school-year milestone.
Lunches rich in natural vitamins and minerals are the best stress-relief supplements on the market; think real fruits and vegetables, proteins, non-starchy carbohydrates and healthy fats. Also make sure to drink plenty of water (bring your own refillable water bottle from home) to keep your energy up and reduce daytime fatigue. You can even get some of your water intake from foods rich in water such as tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, strawberries, watermelon, peaches and oranges.
Take a mental health day
No matter how much you slow things down during the first five weeks, the time will still fly by and you’ll likely feel overwhelmed regardless.
While it may feel verboten to take a mental health day so early in the year, the break could do you a world of good. The school year is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, so pacing yourself out of the gate with a well-deserved day away could be exactly what your body and mind need at this time of year. Use your mental health day to practice some self-care, enjoy a stress-busting activity such as a trip to the gym… or art gallery, or catch up on your paperwork if thoughts of your own “homework” are weighing you down.
Overall, make sure to think positive and stay positive. Don’t let the pressure of a new school year make you lose sight of what you love about teaching and the incredible impact you have on your students’ lives. Remember that Snow Cloud’s portfolio of products also include a number of tools that can help strengthen peer-to-peer connections and support a joy for learning. Contact us today if you have any questions on how your Snow Cloud program can help work wonders for you.