The following article comes from KS2 class teacher Toria Bono, who shares her plans to put her year six pupils at ease.

At the start of lockdown I wrote an article called ‘Together We Can’ as I embarked on online teaching for the first time in my career. I wrote about feeling as if I was on a virtual roller-coaster, but I was determined to search out the positives and enjoy the journey and I have to say that I have. There have naturally been a few bumps in the road, but on the whole I have thoroughly enjoyed learning to teach on an online platform.

The week ahead (I am writing this on Sunday 31st May), heralds yet more change to the face of education in England and I am sitting here pondering what it will look like. This week, I will be welcoming Year 6 children to my bubble, as will thousands of other teachers all over the country. I will be working with children who have been away from their peers since the end of March and they will be coming back into a very different classroom set-up with a new teacher – me!

So many things that we took for granted before will be more challenging or impossible in the new set-up. Talk partners, sharing equipment, moving freely around the classroom, singing – I could go on but I shan’t. The reality is it will be different, but it is our job as educators to help the young people in our care to manage these changes.

Haim Ginott, who was a teacher, child psychologist and psychotherapist said this:

“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather.”

Based on this theory, I hold the power to make my young people’s return to school joyous, even within these challenging circumstances. I have shared just a few things I plan to do.

I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather.

Haim GinottChild Psychologist

1. Welcome them each day

The way I greet young people when they enter the classroom is so important. Ensuring that my body language, facial expression and tone of voice show them that I am so pleased they are there, helps them to relax and realise that they are in a place of safety. Doing this each day builds up strong relationships and trust.

2. Create a Routine

The way I greet young people when they enter the classroom is so important. Ensuring that my body language, facial expression and tone of voice show them that I am so pleased they are there, helps them to relax and realise that they are in a place of safety. Doing this each day builds up strong relationships and trust.

3. Focus on Wellbeing

I don’t need to tell you that we are in the midst of an international pandemic. For young people of any age this is scary and undoubtedly mystifying. They can’t see it, they can’t touch it, they can’t even smell it – but it’s there.

They will have anxieties and concerns – we all do. Some of them may even have lost loved ones. Allowing them to process this is so important and remembering that they all might process it in different ways. I will be providing my ‘bubble’ with opportunities to talk, draw and create in order to process their emotions.

For ideas to support wellbeing there is a fantastic Padlet here.

4. Read to them each day

There aren’t many young people who don’t like to be read to and shared reading has many benefits for all involved, so one of my first activities with the class will be to let them choose our class book. I intend to read a chapter from three different books and then allow them to vote for their favourite. This shared reading will bring us together each day whilst allowing all of us to journey to a different time and place.

These are only a few ideas, but you get the picture. I am the mood-maker in my classroom and I want the weather to be warm and sunny and bright in there – even if it is stormy outside! My young people deserve it.

Primary teacher Toria Bono

Author

Toria Bono

Toria Bono is a primary school teacher in the South East of England. Through her blog Teaching Others & Learning All The Time, she shares her experiences, opinions and lessons learned in the classroom. She also empowers other eduleaders on Twitter via the #TinyVoiceTuesday and #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites hashtags.

Follow Toria on Twitter – @ToriaClaire