A familiar lament of many teachers at the start of a new school year was echoed by a member today seeking help:
I want to build a collaborative & creative community and I’m overwhelmed with where to start. I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to have the ‘perfect’ re-entry for my students after such a long break away from each other.
Expecting my response would be helpful to all, here is what I shared:
First, let me say that I can understand your feelings of overwhelm. This is natural, but the key is to not let this get on top of you.
Helping your students to reconnect after such a long break is important, but please keep in mind – anything you do to help your students reconnect, whether it is perfect or not, will help them return to the rigours of school and associated relationships.
A core component to your success will be your intentions. If you do nothing and just expect your students to pick up from where they left off, you and they may be sorely disappointed. The research is clear on this point – the most successful programs in the world are those which intentionally build healthy & trusting relationships from the beginning.
What Activities Do I Start With?
When it comes to specific activities, it’s always hard to be prescriptive because every group is different, but I would start by presenting a sequence of highly interactive, outrageously fun activities first. No lessons, no learning (as such), just unambiguous FUNN to help engage your students quickly and invite them to play, interact and share with one another.
Top choices could include ID Numbers, One-Two-Three, Clumps and Crosstown Connections – but honestly, there are 100s of good ideas that fit this bill. In a sense, you are helping them to break the ice (again) so look to present a series of experiences that will help them become re-acquainted, break the ice and have fun.
And don’t feel guilty if your whole (first) lesson is devoted just to having fun – this experience could very well be the pivot your students are looking for to re-establish their relationships. If you’re interested, I expand on this notion of taking fun more seriously in my book Serious Fun.
Then, I’d gently introduce bigger challenges that invite my group to start to work together. Simple initiatives like Leaning Tower of Feetza, Circle the Circle, Through the Wringer and Change Up come to mind. Again, there are dozens of options that fit this bill – playmeo’s activity search tool will become your new best friend 🙂
Out of interest, our next Learning Pod is Wed 26 August 17:00pm US eastern. Can you make it? This would give you my undivided attention to this task, plus we get to ‘meet’ for the first time 🙂
If you’re interested and available, login to your playmeo account and navigate to My Account > Webinars and look for the registration link for the next Learning Pod. The numbers are often small and intimate, and without exception, everyone turns up to help one another.
I hope to see you this week. And if this is not possible, reach out to me again and we’ll continue this conversation.
All the best for a smooth and relaxed start to the new school year 🙂