Classroom Set-up During Covid-19

This morning I woke up, turned on the pre-loaded coffee maker, splashed water on my face, brushed my teeth, put on my workout clothes, organized the furniture so I would have space to do each the terrible (not really) exercising, and then logged into the digital workout. That is my morning routine and I do it without even thinking about it.This wasn’t necessarily the case, learn more about people. When COVID-19 struck, I think it’s safe to say that many of our formerly discovered daily routines went out the window. If you are like me (and most people), this probably made you feel a tad anxious… till you were able to create and settle into new patterns. People are pattern seekers, and patterns can bring order to scenarios which feel helpless. They could relieve anxiety and, when learned, give our brains time and space to think thoughts which are more complicated than, say, “How do I leave this Zoom meeting without anyone noticing?”Routines from the ClassroomI would argue that educators understand the power of routines better than every other group of professionals. In reality, the very first couple weeks of school are typically devoted to helping pupils learn expectations, procedures, and patterns which will assist the classroom operate like a well-oiled machine. Whereas course expectations or”rules” are those global, overarching guidelines for pupils that talk to school culture and safety, routines address the particular activities throughout the day which reinforce or support the expectations.For example, among those classroom expectations within an early childhood classroom might be, “We’re safe with our own bodies.” This is the global classroom guideline that is referred to over and over again. So, the routines that would support that expectation throughout the day might include things like lining up in a safe distance without touching each other or transitioning from Circle time to Centers within an orderly way.Arguably, much of the day for pupils is spent finishing patterns. Why is this important? Well, along with helping children stay safe, once pupils understand the routines, their brains can concentrate on exactly what we REALLY want them to understand, while it’s literacy, mathematics, or how to become a fantastic friend. Pupils who need a great deal of repetition to learn new abilities, like those with disabilities or developmental delays, gain greatly from classrooms which have predictable, consistent patterns in place. And, patterns help educators! Once patterns are learned, teachers get to focus on instruction!There are some Fantastic beginning of the year classroom patterns featured on Pinterest, like this example:This fall, many of us will be moving straight back to brick and mortar instruction and our students will be joining us. This is going to be an adjustment, to say the very least, and putting solid patterns in place will help everybody feel less anxious and more secure. Some patterns from our pre-COVID world will stay the same, however some new, “COVID” routines will be created to ensure that all pupils are following current safety instructions to the best of their skills. Some examples might include things like lining up in a safe social space, cleaning up following work or centers time by putting used substances in a”dirty” bin, or even pupils sanitizing their hands prior to checking individualized fittings and transitioning to a new area.Planning for New RoutinesWhen thinking about creating new”COVID” patterns, start by asking these questions:Which are the pre-COVID patterns that will stay the same?Are there any existing patterns which will need to be corrected for safety?Are there any new patterns which I need to add?Who will be implementing the patterns? (Teacher, paraprofessionals, and related service providers?)How does the patterns be educated? (visual supports, prompting, modeling, songs?)Are there some students in my course that will require modifications to some regular due to their disabilities? (For example, a student with Autism is working on tolerating the feeling of having wet hands and becomes very anxious when asked to wash his hands)Are there any choices for those students that could get them closer to the safety instructions?

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