A new school year is underway for most students – in some form, anyway. While some schools have opted to re-open their doors, most are sticking with online learning, at least for now, with an eye toward returning to the classroom later in the year. Other schools are working a hybrid system with both online and in-person learning.
Whatever the format at your school, you’ve had to make significant changes to accommodate teachers and students. You knew flexibility would be key. More changes are inevitable as everyone works their way through new processes. Teachers can assess how things are going from their standpoint, but what about the folks at home?
Regular communication with parents and students is critical to learn what’s working, what’s not and how well kids are coping.
"Students are more encouraged, more engaged, and actually achieve more when they are in a positive school culture. So not only does it have importance individually, it also produces greater results for the whole."
-Deb Jones, Co-Founder of K-12 Clothing
Checking in with parents
Reaching out to parents on a regular basis keeps them engaged and serves as a quick parent-teacher conference.
- Do they have all the information they need? Regularly share upcoming plans regarding schoolwork, virtual events, spirit days, etc.
- What about school supplies? Many items that would normally be available in the classroom are now the parents’ responsibility – or schools have made arrangements to distribute items to families.
- Is the technology required for online learning in place and working smoothly?
- Do parents have specific questions or concerns at this point?
Checking in with kids
Reaching out to students one-on-one has both practical and emotional value. If they were returning to the classroom now, you’d likely be taking their temperature first thing to be sure no one is running a fever. Personal check-ins work like a virtual temperature check to learn how things are going.
Are they comfortable with their technology tools or do they need help? Perhaps even more importantly, how are they feeling about their new school situation?
- Video is especially valuable, says the National Association of Elementary School Principals, because you get both verbal and nonverbal communication that can provide deeper insight into a child’s emotional state. Nonetheless, change it up on occasion to keep things interesting, using calls, texts and emails for quick check-ins.
- For middle and high school students, advisors should also check in regularly.
- In some schools, students are encouraged (or even assigned) to check in with one another periodically, too. This enables them to interact more with classmates, helping build stronger peer relationships and overall cohesion.
Cohesion is more important now than ever
During our recent SquadLocker webinar on Building a Sense of Belonging, Deb Jones, Co-Founder of K-12 Clothing, noted that cohesion is the “glue” that ties us school communities together. “Students are more encouraged, more engaged, and actually achieve more when they are in a positive school culture. So not only does it have importance individually, it also produces greater results for the whole.”
Educators understand this well, says Karen Silveira. She is one of our SquadLocker account executives and has worked with schools for 25 years. She says a key reason schools adopt uniforms is to boost sense of belonging.
“Letting the children wear something that's branded for their school or organization makes them feel part of it and it makes them feel good,” she says. “If a student feels like they stick out because of what they're wearing, or they're not wearing what other people have, then they don't feel part of that environment and it's not a cohesive group.”
Requiring students to wear uniforms or spirit wear during online sessions eliminates visual distractions, just as it does in the classroom. So, as you check in with parents, be sure to remind them about your SquadLocker store.
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