Hopefully, when you read the title of this blog post, the song from Aladdin popped into your head. If not, well, your childhood was messed up and you need to go now to Disney+ and watch the movie. Go. I’ll wait.
If you’re like me, then this song was immediately what came to mind when you read the title. Of course, I pictured an animated Jasmine and Aladdin but decided to go a little more current for my video link. If you’re nostalgic, you can pop over to YouTube and watch the original video. I’ll wait.
Okay, now that everyone’s caught up on their Aladdin, I’ll get into the meat of this blog post. Much like Aladdin and Jasmine’s romance, we are also living in a whole new world. It’s called Corona-world and it has made 2020 one crazy, messed-up, insane year.
And now we’re getting ready to go back to school in this Corona-world. Things are scary. Things are different and new. Educators are having to learn a whole new way of thinking and teaching! There’s virtual options and hybrid attendance models. Schools now have temperature checks and one-way signage in the halls. There’s literally instructions on how to wash your hands in the bathrooms (which I always thought was a no-brainer for middle schoolers but …). Teachers and students are wearing masks. No hugs allowed – you can’t even fist bump.
It’s a whole new world.
But we have the opportunity to shape that world. Our thoughts and our actions will dictate how that world will look. Will it be sad and dreary? Glass half empty? Or will it be exciting and adventurous with the glass so dang full it’s running over?
That’s up to us as the educators. We set the tone in our classrooms. Our students will take their cues from us. It doesn’t matter if they’re cute little kindergartners, ‘too cool for school’ eighth graders, or mini-adult seniors. They’re watching us.
So how can we make this whole new world into something amazing? I’m sure you have plenty of ideas but, in case you are looking for some suggestions, here’s a list of ways that you can make it a great year, corona or not.
- Make your classroom inviting. Put up some cute posters. Most teachers decorate anyway but why not do a few cute COVID-related posters? The eighth grade teachers at my school made a really cute bulletin board with little die-cut masks across the top that says “We can’t mask how excited we are to see you!” It’s the little things. My friend did an Instagram post with her dog that shows the proper way to wear a mask. Consider printing out something cute like that and putting it up. If you embrace the new norm and make it seem like just another day, so will your students.
2. Radiate positivity. Be overly exuberant. Your students won’t be able to see a smile behind the mask so use your eyes and your words to let them know you’re super thrilled to see them. They’ll pick up your energy from your words and be excited themselves!
3. Model the procedures. If you want your students to wear masks while transitioning, you wear a mask. If students need to walk on the right hand side of the hall, you need to walk on the right hand side. And don’t act like it’s some big hardship to do so – the students are watching you. If you act like it’s just another day and this is what we are going to do, so will they.
4. Air hugs, air high-fives, air fist bumps – these are going to be the new normal. So you can’t hug the kids. That’s tough! I know that when I see some of my students this week, it’s going to take all my willpower not to run over and grab them up in a big bear hug. But you can’t do that. You can, however, invent new ways of greeting your students and let them know you love them. Maybe you can come up with some completely six-feet-apart greeting dance that makes you look like a dork (those are the best kind) but shows your kids that you are so glad to see them.
5. Be yourself. Yeah, this is all new. Yeah, students can’t share supplies or sit next to each other. Yeah, you may have students only one day a week or two days a week or only virtual. Yeah, coronavirus has changed our lives but it hasn’t changed who you are. You are still you. You are still an amazing educator with a heart for children. So show it. Play Kahoot! with the kids. Do escape rooms. Dress up in costume and wave around a Roman sword. Things are different, there’s no denying that. But you are still you. You became an educator for a reason. I assume it has something to do with loving children.
And, while coronavirus can and has totally changed the landscape of our lives, it doesn’t have to change you. So even in this whole new world … be there for your students. Love them. Be you. And be awesome.
We’re all in this together. I’m leaving you with two music videos that communicate that. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or your ideas for this new year!
We got this, educators! Go out and change this whole new world!