School is a place to learn subject-matter content, but for many of our students, it is equally rich with formative social experiences and memorable rites of passage. The social and emotional elements of a school setting support our students in critical ways, helping them grow into the people they are today and the adults they will eventually become.
So what happens when schools shift to a distance-learning model and nearly everything feels different, including social interactions, milestones, and celebrations? In short, we need to adjust and find new ways to meet these social and emotional needs and honor our students. After all, it is often these experiences that are the most memorable aspects of school, and they keep students coming back each day. In a distance-learning environment where students are physically separated from each other, this is perhaps more important than ever.
As you begin thinking about how you will honor your students and celebrate together, consider these general tips, as well as which events you wish to recognize.
General Tips and Considerations
- Be aware that not everyone will have internet access.
- Be inclusive.
- Comply with local and state guidelines.
- Empower students in the process.
- Seek stakeholder input.
- Keep it simple.
- Respect copyright.
- Consider digital citizenship norms.
- Consider who will or should see your celebration (see Internet Safety for Teachers).
- Consider new opportunities to recognize “more” students.
- Communicate clearly and inclusively.
- Be sure that you have permission to post student work.
Events to Celebrate or Re-Create
- End-of-year celebrations
- Field trips
- Academic success
- Award ceremonies
- School-wide competitions
- Community-building challenges
- Spirit days
- Talent shows
- Student showcases