Uncertainty is scary for everyone, including all the other young people up and down the country. We have now lost the main constant in our lives – school.
However, what we need to recognise is that even though school has stopped, learning does not. We don’t know when this will end, we can’t control that – but we can control how we deal with it.
The main concern of students is the lack of structure to our days.
There is no bell to tell us when to move to the next lesson and, for some students, there is nobody there to hold us accountable for not getting out of bed. For students, there is an association between the closure of school and not needing to do any work.
No school usually means a holiday, which would include Netflix, relaxing and not much else, but this is not a holiday. We still need to learn and the prospect of doing this without a regular routine and teachers nearby is a scary one for many students.
School is also a safety net for many students, myself included. Now they feel like this has been abruptly pulled from underneath our feet far too quickly.
What support do students want after coronavirus school closures?
Here are some ways that schools can help support us through this:
1. Communicate regularly
Students need to know that teachers are still there. Just because we will no longer be seeing teachers every day, it doesn’t mean that they have disappeared off the face of the earth.
Students feel like the safety net of school has been pulled away and that we are now on our own.
This is not the case. Just by sending a message to students once a day, students will see that their teachers are still there to support them.
Trust me, students really do appreciate this, even if we don’t always show it.
2. Make us smile
Electronic messages can often seem very formal and impersonal. When communicating with students, try to make sure you come across as yourself.
Add smiley faces at the end of messages and make sure your tone is relaxed. You could even send subject-specific memes (yes, they do exist and, yes, they are funny); this may seem cringy but we need to keep our spirits up.
3. Accountability is key
Although we may like to think that students have the motivation to work, the majority of us won’t.
Unless there is some way that staff can prove we have done the work, many students just won’t bother. I’m sorry but we will still need nagging!
4. Encourage us to learn for the sake of it
Just because school has stopped, it doesn’t mean that learning has to. There is a bounty of information at our fingertips; now is the time to utilise that to its full potential.
By encouraging students to research a topic of their choice, with little to no accountability to ensure that they really are doing it because they want to, teachers may trigger a desire to learn in their students.
Once we are then in the learning mindset, we may then feel in a better place to do the school work we have been set.
We don’t know how long schools will be closed for. But we do know that we are not alone in this. Now is a perfect time to share resources, tactics and ideas to help each other and to help students.
Now, more than ever, we are a team. In the words of High School Musical, "We’re all in this together."