We were all immersed in the moment, navigating our way through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Now we must turn our attention to how we return children to school and how we focus on students’ learning.

Here’s how:

1. Start with fun: Build relationships early and often. Remember how important icebreakers are? Multiply that by 10. Remember, kids are not only returning from summer break, but from a world-altering event. It is sometimes hard to know how impacting this can be. You can bet your stimulus money it was far more impacting then we adults, distracted by our return to normal, may recognize. We cannot ignore this. We should embrace and leverage it for the benefit of our students. Do this strategically by embracing the progressive nature built in here.

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Here are a few tips:

a) Query kids about what they learned from the pandemic. How did they benefit from it? Did they get to bond more with family members? Pets? Did they gain a greater appreciation for friendships? Did they learn something new about themselves or the world in shifting through the phases of the world, their school, or their families’ response to it?

b) Offer kids some perspective about the pandemic. Show them the statistics and data on how the 1918 pandemic was tragically worse. Stage this in a game format, such as a trivia game. Think of fun online activities that show high student interest like Kahoot!. This can be expanded into a social studies or literary experience later.

About the Author:

Michael Gaskell, Ed.D., is a veteran middle school principal, mentor to new principals and author of 16 articles since 2018. With a book coming out in September on effective educator practices, he aspires to bring practical solutions to educators and families everywhere, in the best interest of students, especially the disadvantaged.