I know it’s just mid-July but my head is swirling over the return to school. I’ve been reading nearly every article I can find about what it might look like and my grand consensus is no one has any idea. And frankly, any school that has already published a plan might be revising it because who knows what their community will look like in a few weeks.
What I do know, is it won’t look like what we left behind in March. Whether you’re going remote, in person or some sort of hybrid approach, your students are going to be thrown in the middle of something new.
And what’s a great way to distress special education students? Throw them into a novel situation with no preparation.
Build Your Own Return to School Adapted Book
I built a list of “maybe it will be like this” to create an adapted book you can send home to students. My goal was to create something partially editable so you can delete the pages you don’t need and only include the pages that apply to your classroom.
I have over 40 pages starting with my own state’s recommendations – masks, distancing, half days, half weeks, learning at home, opening windows, learning outside, not traveling to other classrooms, extra cleaning, hand sanitizer, hand washing, not sharing supplies and on and on.
Ideas for Use
I’m envisioning this book being sent home to families ahead of time so parents can start preparing students before school starts. But it can certainly be used in the classroom perhaps as part of morning meeting to remind students about the new routines – masks, hand sanitizer, distancing etc.
Be sure to consider how many pages you are making and sending home. Imagine how you felt when you first read your state’s or district’s guidance – Illinois’ recommendations were 60 pages long!
Don’t overwhelm your students before school starts with a 35 page document filled with relatively small details. Big stuff like bus changes, wearing masks, new teachers, temp checks…definitely include those in the version you send home. Consider keeping smaller details like you won’t be singing in music class to an in class discussion once school starts.
You can see I also added a feelings check-in on each page. It might help if your students can tell you or their parents what parts are most stressful so you can plan accordingly.
Sometimes we just tell our students what will happen and think that will be sufficient. Many of these things are not small changes we’re asking them to process. Right now, adults are having trouble processing these new procedures and routines. We have to give our students a chance to say “this sucks!”
Editable and Customizable for your Needs
I created this book in MS PowerPoint so you can edit as necessary. You can edit my text to more accurately reflect your situation, or use my template to create your own pages.
I recorded a short video of tips for editing this book quickly.
Editable School Calendar
If you are returning to school with a hybrid of remote and in person learning, create a schedule for your students. Giving them a visual of each day’s location may help reduce repeated questions and anxiety.
Similar to the adapted book, open the file in PowerPoint and simply drag and drop the pictures onto the calendar customized to each individual student’s schedule.
I created a quick video to show you how to edit this calendar so you can make one for each student.
Pin for other special educators!