#58 – Transitioning Young Learners Back to School

Unpacking Education September 22, 2021 38 min

Transitions happen. As we start back to school this year, we need to help our students understand and prepare for change. Throughout the pandemic, teachers saw that students who came from family units that were resilient and ready for challenges were much better equipped to navigate the changes that came over the course of the year. To best support our young learners’ transition back to the physical classroom full-time, we need to model this resiliency. We can begin by slowing down to take the time to build a classroom culture where our young students enjoy the learning process.

Join us for this week’s podcast as we welcome our special guest, Amini Onowho, a PreK–2 teacher in an Inclusion/Sheltered English Immersion classroom in Boston, Massachusetts. Amini shares with the team how to recognize the external and internal factors that may impede a child’s social, emotional, and academic development as well as her strategies for navigating the transition back to school this year with her young learners.

Amini also discusses the importance of the first six weeks of school, where she focuses on establishing routines, encouraging students to explore their environment and meet their classmates. Treating her classroom as a microcosm of the world, Amini builds a community that recognizes the diverse backgrounds of each student, sets up normalcy, and develops structures to lower anxieties and help prepare young students for learning.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
STEM Facilitator and Digital Learning Specialist
Dr. Winston Benjamin
Social Studies and English Language Arts Facilitator

Transitions in life can offer opportunities for discovery.

Robbie Shell, former business journalist

Welcoming a Wild Card Year of Learning

The return to the classroom this fall will be accompanied by unknowns. As we welcome young learners back, we need to recognize how their transition may be a bit different this year. For many, this will be the first time that they’ll be back in a brick-and-mortar school with all of their classmates in attendance.

Join the team as they learn strategies from Amini on how to create a space for learning that supports social and emotional development, while nurturing the whole child’s experience. We discuss how technology can continue to play a role in meeting students’ needs, offering scaffolding and differentiation opportunities. We share strategies for connecting with families to provide them with the information that they need to best support their students. We also talk about what we can do as teachers to ensure that we’re working with our students to build an anti-biased community in our classroom, with culturally and time-relevant curriculum remixes to engage students in the learning process.

To best prepare for this wild card year of learning, we have an opportunity to take best practices from remote teaching and combine them with social and emotional learning, where we recognize the cultural and social experience that each child brings with them to the classroom.

In this episode, we examine the following questions with Amini:

  • To get started, can you describe what this past year has been like for you and the students in your district? Also, what does school look like as you go back this fall?
  • What are you doing to help your students transition back to school this fall? In what way is the transition back to school different this year than in other years?
  • What have been some of the biggest challenges and successes from this past school year?
  • How do you use technology in your classroom? Are there any tools and strategies that you will continue to use from this past school year?
  • What are some ways that you build community in your classroom?
  • What are some roadblocks that you foresee in supporting student learning post-COVID?
  • What is your favorite thing about teaching and working with K–2 students, and why?

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