Prepare to Reconnect Students to Learning after the Holidays

  • by Cindy Jones
  • Dec. 12, 2020, 4:45 p.m.

The COVID pandemic has disrupted many students’ connection to school and learning. Some students depend so much on school for their social interaction, for a lot of resources, and for just the comfort of something consistent. This is a difficult time to be a teacher AND a student. What steps can we employ to help students reconnect and stay connected to school?

Here are ideas that have worked for educators both in the classroom and on-line.

Nonverbal Messages

  • Smile (with your eyes) at the students daily more frequently than usual.
  • Greet them at the door (or on-line) in a fun way.

Discuss Topics They Care About

  • Talk about something daily not related to school, subject, or behavior.
  • Use the 2x10 Approach: 2 minutes a day for 10 days talk to a student about something he is interested in. You could target 2 or 3 students during each 10-day period and talk to each student individually. This is a great way to deepen a relationship.

Plan for Learning to be Fun

  • Make review into a game or contest. One of the basic needs of all individuals is to have fun.
  • Make what you are teaching interesting and fun. When you enjoy and have fun teaching, it will spread to your students.

Build Community

  • Provide opportunities for students to get to interact with each other in positive ways.
  • Let the student be a cross-age tutor (3–5 times a week) for students in a lower grade.
  • Explore ways they can benefit others. What does the student know a lot about that they could share with peers?
  • Put students into teams and challenge the students to do something together. This could be solving a riddle or drawing a model of something. Make it a game.
  • Empower the students by giving choices. This is basic need. People need to feel they have some type of control.

Give Frequent Feedback

  • Provide at least one positive comment to the student each hour emphasizing effort, production, or outcomes. Don’t give compliments, state facts.
  • Provide negative feedback when necessary. Use empathy and benefit statements. Focus on problem, not student.
  • Call or message parents or guardians at least once a week with a positive comment.

Acknowledge their Feelings.

Let the students know you understand and care.

  • “You sound angry. We can talk about it later.”
  • “You look upset. Can you get to work or do you need five?”
  • “I’m sorry you feel that way. Let’s set a time to talk later.”
  • “When did you start (feeling, thinking, believing) that way? Tell me after class.”
  • “Did you always (feel, think, believe) that way about me? Let’s talk about it after class.”

Give them Hope.

  • There must be hope before there can be responsibility. Would you come to work if you had no hope of being paid? Kids will not bring their materials to class or log-on if there is no hope of being successful.The greatest gift you can give a child is hope.

Change is hard and this is a difficult time. Staying connected to your students and giving them a variety of ways to stay connected with one another is critical to both mental health and effective learning.

Cindy Jones has been working with challenging students for 50 years. Be sure to register for the online seminar Practical Strategies for Improving the Behavior of Attention-Seeking, Manipulative and Challenging Students presented by Cindy Jones.