As fall 2021 rapidly approaches, many educators are getting their preparations into high gear. While back-to-school preparations are always a busy time, this year may pose a unique challenge to many educators, as schools transition from a mostly remote model of teaching and learning due to the coronavirus pandemic back to in-person, or in some cases hybrid or multi-option, classes. So what should you be keeping in mind as you prepare for fall 2021 and look back on the differences from fall 2020? Let’s have a look:
Hitting the Ground Running
At this point, you’ll have already drawn up your lesson plans, and have an idea of how your semester is going to look in terms of units taught, timelines to hit, and goals you hope your students will reach. That’s great! Now it’s time to make certain your first few weeks are ready to go, getting your students started “with a bang.” The 2020-2021 academic year was full of stops and starts, and many schools spent nearly as much time explaining health and safety guidance, or remote learning protocols, as focusing on a given day’s lessons. This year, start your students off with something engaging and intellectually challenging for the first unit—hitting the ground running and getting back into the swing of the school year.
Anticipating Student Needs
After the challenges of last year, it’s important to think about how your students will feel returning to full-time, in-person school—if they aren’t choosing to remain remote, for any number of reasons. Many students will be nervous returning to a classroom environment, or have a difficult time readjusting to the schedule and physical rhythms of the school day. Others will still be struggling with trauma they may have experienced over the course of the pandemic, including the loss of loved ones. It’s important to be on the lookout for how your students are acclimating as the school year begins—and to remind them that they can always come to you with any questions, concerns, or challenges they may be struggling with.
Taking Advantage of Being in Person Again
It’s good to be back! Now that you’re in person again, be sure to take full advantage of all the opportunities it has to offer. Whether that’s collaborative projects getting students to work together, academic games to enhance core concepts and take advantage of kinetic learning styles, or offering lunchtime or after-school prep opportunities, fall 2021 will have opportunities to enhance learning that were often unavailable in fall 2020. Taking full advantage of these, from the get-go of the school year, will not only help your students learn more (and enjoy the learning process!), it will also set off the positive differences between this academic year and the one that came before it.
Everything ready to go? One final check never hurts! Before the school year starts, make sure you’ve done all the last-minute preparations you need to do before you meet a new year’s students. Be sure you’ve got your physical classroom ready, including any necessary health and safety precautions, like seeing to ventilation and the availability of hand sanitizers. Go over your lesson plans and how your first week back will look. And be certain you know of any special protocols your school will be enacting—e.g., provisions to continue remote lessons for students who prefer them. Remember, even as the school year begins, you can always incorporate new materials, like the ones we have at A-List. And get ready for the beginning of a great new academic year!