We’re over halfway through the 2020 to 2021 school year, and a lot has changed since September. This year, more and more educators have started incorporating video into their lesson plans, innovating with technology, and embracing alternative forms of learning – and all of this is here to stay.
A few months ago, we asked educators across Canada what they wanted to accomplish this school year. Their top answers included:
- Focusing on social and emotional learning,
- Inspiring creativity, compassion, and empathy, and
- Creating more calm and safe learning environments in the classroom
As school administrators work to find creative solutions through this transition, we’ve enhanced our School Care Kit to provide even more lesson plans and resources to support educators and parents where they need it most.
Here are some themes we explore through the new School Care Kit.
Creating Space for Thought
Science tells us we are better able to take in and process information when we are calm. That’s why we’ve created “Space for Thought” lounges, to support students with a much-needed brain break during an especially eventful time. By allowing free time for their imagination to relax and wander, students are able to be more productive, refocus their attention, and reduce stress and frustration.
Carving out time for Space for Thought also gives students an opportunity to practice the calmversation framework:
- Observe: Encourage your students to slow down and observe things in the world. For example, take them for a forest walk and get some fresh air at the same time
- Reflect: Ask your students to quietly think about what they’re experiencing, wonder about possibilities, understand what’s happening, and imagine new ideas.
- Connect: Bring the group back together for sharing and respectful discussion.
Take a look at your upcoming lesson plans and see where you can create more Space for Thought for your students or check out the School Care Kit for more great ideas and inspiration!
Building resilience in children
In many cases, it seems our students have better adapted to this new world than we have. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t experienced emotional instability of their own, especially when they see the adults around them still adapting.
As educators, we’re wired to put academics first, but should that still be our biggest priority right now? Perhaps more importantly, we need to spend more time supporting our students’ emotional well-being and helping them build their resilience.
Having open calmversations with our students and allowing them to safely explore their feelings teaches resilience in uncertain times. To further foster their skills, you can:
- Give them space to practice new stress management techniques. Start by practicing self-reflection in the classroom and help students recognize their own symptoms of worry, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and burnout. Consider taking a few minutes at the beginning and end of each school day for some mindfulness activities to help your students stay grounded.
- Encourage routines. Research has shown that establishing and maintaining a routine is key to helping students cope with anxiety during the pandemic. It takes the uncertainty out of the world for a short time. Look at your class schedule and see where you can create consistent routines, like 15-minutes each day of silent reading.
- Provide space for peer support. As much as we want to be there to support and guide our students, we must also create a space where they feel safe to share with their peers too. You can support this by helping them understand COVID-safe ways to interact with their peers for support and connection.
Try using the calmversation framework to expand on the topic of resiliency:
- Observe: Create activities for students to observe themselves and those around them
- Reflect: Encourage them to turn these observations into emotions and stories
- Connect: Through art, writing, or sharing circles, encourage your students to share what they observed in themselves and their reflections
Encouraging new forms of expression
Throughout the School Care Kit, we share different ideas and prompts to encourage students to explore different ways to relieve stress, communicate their emotions, and be creative.
Students have different learning styles and ways of expressing themselves, including:
- Visual: Learn/express through watching
- Auditory: Learn/express through listening and sounds
- Tactile: Learn/express through touch
- Kinesthetic: Learn/expression through doing and movement
For younger students, try modifying activities to cover different styles of expression and give all students an opportunity to participate and learn about their preferences. With older students, give them the space to use the one they resonate with best.
Here’s how this can work using our calmversation framework:
- Observe: Ask your students to observe a scene in nature, watch a video, or think back to a situation they saw at the playground that day
- Reflect: Encourage them to reflect on what they see
- Connect: Have them express their observations and reflections through an art form of their choice
Exploring diversity and inclusion
Celebrating diversity has always been a crucial topic that needs to be covered in the classroom, and these past months have made it especially clear why. On February 24th, we celebrated #PinkShirtDay to encourage inclusivity and respect, regardless of race, culture, religion, sexual orientation or gender. But these conversations shouldn’t be limited to one day.
How can you explore diversity and inclusion in the classroom? For starters, inspire compassion and help your students understand what diversity and inclusion look like.
Inclusion and Diversity is covered in Week 12 of the School Care Kit.
Try using the calmversation framework to explore diversity and inclusion with your students:
- Observe: Pair up your students and ask them to write or draw observations about each other, without talking.
- Reflect: Encourage them to reflect on the similarities between them.
- Connect: Have your students express their observations to their partner, then “introduce” their partner to the class as they describe them.
What’s new in the School Care Kit 2.0?
The new School Care Kit was created to support the hard work you’re already doing in the classroom with learning objectives and resources that encourage social and emotional learning. In this updated version, we’ve included:
- 40 ready-to-go lesson plans, covering exceptionally relevant and current topics
- 20 visual check-in cards, ice breakers, and warm-up activities
- 20 space for thought lounges
Each week we add 2 new lesson-plans, 1 visual check-in board, and 1 new Space for Thought lounge.
All ready-to-go lesson plans are easily adaptable to any mode of education. Educators can use these lessons as is, or customize them to a current global event, community event, or classroom incident.
Get access to all our resources and lesson plans in the School Care Kit! Sign-up today and receive the first month free.