It’s back-to-school time, folks – or at least that’s what my calendar tells me. August is always a busy month, marked by nonstop professional development. And this year more sessions are crammed into the limited dates thanks to the magic of the virtual platform. I work with one group in the morning and jump across the country for an afternoon session with just the click of a button.
Virtually or in person, there are clear indicators I’m working with teachers in August. They are excited, anxious, and exceedingly talkative. They rearrange rooms, clump together in the back, and putting 7-8 chairs around tables designed for four so they can sit with their friends. They must be reminded to turn their screens on, transitions take forever – and whatever time lunch ends, I have to extend that by five minutes.
Yes – I call upon my behavior management skills more than usual when starting a new school year. I’m patient, as it takes longer to get the group’s attention. I’m understanding, knowing that when we haven’t seen our friends in a while, we want to connect. I’m flexible, breaking up the material into shorter chunks because I know it takes time to get brains out of summer and into learning mode. Sound familiar?
Teachers, remember that just because your students need the structure school will afford them, doesn’t mean they are ready to accept it. Students might want to follow directions, attend, and learn, but their bodies and brains will probably override their desire to do so at first. You and your students will both adjust and get back into the groove of things, but it will take some time. And in my experience of working with teachers, I find it better to ride that wave with them rather than fight against it.