Lockdown Day 66 – Teacher and Parent Post
Most of our time this week was spent trying to stay on top of the ‘yo-yo’ that is the back to school saga! Are schools going back tomorrow? Who is going back? How are they going back? What will school look like?
So many questions, and 24 hours prior to school opening, so few ‘solid’ answers. Independent schools are still awaiting clarity this morning about what, who, when and how the start of school is going to happen.
We previously spoke about ‘turbulent skies’ (post #38), it seems we have moved from the air to seas and are now having to navigate ‘troubled waters’!
Irrespective of what happens today, the children will be returning to school in some form during the course of this week, so we will focus on them today.
As a training centre, we have been privy to many discussions around the practicalities of bringing children and teachers back to school during the pandemic. Schools are faced with reams and reams of paper, policies and procedures and it is very easy to lose sight of the most important aspect is this return – THE CHILD.
Yes – we need to ensure that we are Covid-19 compliant. Yes – we need to ensure that everyone and everything is made safe. But also yes – we need to remember the child we serve amidst the bureaucratic paperwork.
* THE RETURNING CHILD *
Every single child returning to school has had a different experience of the lockdown. Family, social and economic circumstances will have been unique for each child, so the child who returns to the school will not be the same child that left in March.
The world as the child knew it is no longer there. Home as the child knew it is no longer there. And now – school as they knew it will no longer be there either. This is a time of great change, and change is the one factor that can cause great uncertainty and insecurity for the developing child.
As the adults, we will need to manage the transition from home to school as a flexible collaboration between the parents and the teachers. The first few weeks of the school reopening will be difficult for all the adults. Parents will want assurance of safety and the academic experience. Teachers will need to get to grips with theoretical policies and procedures that have to be applied practically. We all know that children do not come with instruction manuals, and that they cannot be programmed to do ‘what the rules say’! This is going to have to be a period of flexible transition. Expectations need to be tempered and managed with grace and courtesy on all sides.
The children need to be prepared for the ‘new school’. They have a memory of what school was like and they need to be prepared that this is not what they are coming back to. If at all possible, schools could send out a short video to the children to show them the new procedures. This can include what the teachers now look like (masked), how the drop-off and screening procedure will work, and what the classroom looks like.
Teachers and parents need to be aware that the children who left the school and those that now return are not the same children. They have also changed. To facilitate the transition, parents need to let the teachers know what has happened in the child’s life over the last two months. How has the child handled the lockdown? What interests does the child currently have? Has anything significantly impacted the child’s life? This information will allow the teacher to engage meaningfully with the child on the child’s return and give the child a sense of security in knowing that the teacher still knows her/him.
And for the teachers, as our esteemed colleagues from Montessori Centre International (UK) said in a webinar this week – Be an OWL in this new ERA, especially in the first few weeks of having the children back.
Observe, Wait and Listen before jumping in and assuming that you know what the child needs. Once you have had this Experience, take time to Reflect on what you have seen and heard and Adapt accordingly to work with the child’s needs within the safety limits required.
And a final note for parents and teachers…
Allow the children TIME to transition. It is not necessary to push the children straight back to ‘work’. Academics will happen much more constructively once the child has had the opportunity to transition securely to this new schooling environment. Allow the children to lead this experience and know that it will be different for each child. Keeping as much familiarity from the ‘past’ as possible will allow the child to find ‘peace’ in the classroom by being able to connect purposefully with friends and activities that s/he remembers from the past, and will help to prepare the child constructively and securely for the future.
We wish you all well for the next week as you reconnect with each other.