The Return to ‘Normality’

Schools are back to normal?!

‘Normality’ what even is it? Well according to oxford it is; the state of being usual, typical, or expected

Therefore, the potential opposite of the times we have been experiencing this year. As the environment shipped us to a ‘new normal’ the impact on our children has been significant. Melbourne is currently preparing to return to the ‘old normal’, which will kind of be the ‘new normal’! Confused? I guess that’s 2020! The chaotic (even neurotic) environment that we’ve been a part of this year. The constant changing of routine, expectation, and now the return to classrooms will be a challenge for our children. Just as remote learning was challenging at the start. 

The return to the traditions of a classroom; with the sharing of space and time with other students and the entirety of a full day of learning, listening and concentrating will be somewhat exhausting. It’s more important now than ever for our learning communities (educators, parents and students) to come together and be aware of the stress and strain of it all. There will be a potential effect on the wellbeing of our youth. 

In a recent study by the Australian Children Foundation in relation to the wellbeing of children and Covid-19. Dr. Joe Tucci speaks about the emotional strains it has put on them. 

“One of the things [parents] are saying is their kids are a bit more emotionally volatile, more teary, they want more reassurance, and they’re struggling to calm them down,”

Sydney Morning Herald: Before Covid Our Teen Was Struggling, Now It’s A Living Nightmare: By Samantha Selinger-Morris: Sept. 3rd 2020

As educators, we need to look out for all those in our school community. To all adults, we’d like to stress to check in on yourselves first and if need be use available services (below) if you are finding it difficult to cope with the current environment. Support can be everything in a time when you may feel you can control nothing! Very importantly as well, we would like to stress that if you have been concerned about the wellbeing of your child, talk with your teachers upon the return to the classroom and/or connect with government services (listed below) for help. Finally, we stress for all teachers to put the wellbeing of their students at the forefront of their return to school.  

Beyond Blue’s incredible Be You initiative reminds us that; 

“During a time when your learning community may need to adapt to significant change, think about the things you can control and try and simplify them. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, your students or others around you. Break tasks down into manageable chunks and give as much notice as possible about transitions and changes to routines and environments. Communicate regularly and openly with students about changes to reduce concern and uncertainty.”

Be You: Beyond Blue

Therefore perhaps focus on the smaller things. Creating an environment that is predictable and engaging. Most importantly, stick to continuity and an established framework! 

Mrs. L-D’s suggestions:

  1. Focus on routine and structure in the environment. 
  2. Be aware of using repetitive communication methods to ease anxiety; such as a class email each morning, or establishing a routine breakfast conversation at home about the day ahead. 
  3. Slowly rebuild social interactions by setting group tasks or facilitating active group engagement. 
  4. Take time to use wellbeing lessons/activities and forums that support all students. 
  5. Reset behavioural expectations together. 
  6. Potentially ease academic expectations and build on their foundational learning skills. This will have them ready to go in 2021! 
  7. Take time to build on a happy whole school (or home) environment, creating that ‘new normal’. Finally;
  8. Make support networks known. 

During Term 4, the focus should be on the simple strengths of a learner needed to reintegrate back into the school environment as well as the social and emotional development of our school communities. We’ve written before about how children feel safe with predictable boundaries, routine and positive ongoing feedback. It’s time to give our energy to the positive studies in education and psychology; briefly broken down in our article Why The Positives

Educational researcher John Hattie has been assisting the Australian and New Zealand governments for years on, how to build the positive impact of teachers. He argues that between; student, peers, teachers, home, school and principal, the actual classroom teacher makes up for 30% of the impact on the students success. It is for this reason that a lot of the current uncertainty and mental wellbeing of our students falls upon the attitude and efforts of the teacher. It’s time for parents and teachers to work together to ensure the transition for our students is positive, progressive and gentle.  

Parent support services: 

Beyond Blue

LifeLine

Parent Line Victoria: 13 22 89

Raising Children Australia – link to a range of specific support services 

Calm Kid Central 

Students support services for Teachers: 

Department of Education (Mental Health Services) 

beyou.edu.au 

Raising Children Australia 

Australian Childhood Foundation 

References: 

https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/before-covid-our-teen-was-struggling-soon-it-became-a-living-nightmare-20200903-p55rwo.html

http://www.oxfordreference.com

© Positive Teaching

http://www.positiveteaching.com.au

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