COVID Classroom Tips and Tricks
This is going to be a year unlike any other. New policies, new classroom set ups, new grade assignments, and more things that we probably haven't even thought of yet 🤷🏼♀️🤣
Sharing ideas is going to be a huge part of figuring out all these new things this year. With a few days of extra set-up time this year, I've spent a lot of time in the last week figuring out how to best set-up the classroom to meet new regulation standards. I've seen some great ideas and tried out a few, so I thought I would share them with you all!
I have managed to avoid desks over the past few years teaching Grade 1. Tables for life! All that said, this year is obviously an exception with new COVID policies.
If you’ve had desks in your classroom before, you know they like to slowly move backwards, forwards, sideways - basically in every direction!
One idea to make sure the desks stay a specific distance apart (in my board it's 1m apart), tape an outline on the floor! This way the students have a visual cue for when their desks are out of place and it's easy to move it back to it's spot. This may depend on the custodian's preferences and rules about stuff on the floor - we all know that you do not want to get on their bad side! 😅 When I shared this idea on Instagram, a few people mentioned using electrical tape instead of masking tape to get your custodian on board - apparently it easily peels off the floor without leaving any residue.
Creating Ownership Over Scary Things
There are going to be a lot of students coming to school nervous and/or anxious about staying safe. The fact that schools and classrooms looks different could be a could contribute to those feelings. One way to help students deal with some of these emotion is to give them some ownership over the situation. For example, the plastic dividers that are on every desk may seem scary at first. By allowing students to make them their own, they will feel less intimidating. I'm planning to have students start by making them into robots and then change up the theme every month or so. I'll be sending out these robot templates as a freebie to my mailing list on Friday, so keep an eye out!!
I decided to repurpose my guided reading cart to have a clear and obvious place area for hand sanitizer. The policy in my board is that students sanitize or wash their hands any time they leave or come into the classroom. I also added Kleenex and Bandaids, since students would be expected to sanitize before and after they use them. This way it's all in one spot!
I moved my cart right to the door so they can't miss it when they come in. I also put up one of the posters from my On lave les mains! resource to help students remember the steps for using hand sanitizer. I added the labels to that resource so if you already have it, you can re-download it from TPT to get the labels if you want!
If you're like me and are team tables, desks are a whole new world. Even when I used desks when I taught junior, desks were a constant source of chaos even with regular desk clean ups. Since this is just one more new thing for my Grade 1s to learn, I'm going with a pencil box and a larger plastic bin for duotangs and les cahiers. This way everything has it's place and hopefully with the bin and pencil box in there, there's less space for random things to be floating around anyways! 🤷🏼♀️
I hot glued a name plate to the pencil box with the alphabet and corresponding pictures to help with sound identification, colour words, left/right, and a number line from 1 to 20. On the inside of the pencil box, I hot glued a similar page but with letter formation guides. You can grab an editable template here if you want to try it!
In my board, Math is taught in English by another teacher. When it comes to individual math kits, the Math teacher and I came up with a storage system that works with the space and for easy access when she comes to teach Math. She has sorted a bunch of math manipulatives into individual baggies (i.e., pattern blocks, linking cubes, cuisinaire rods, number line, ten frame, counters, etc.). We're storing these baggies in the blue plastic magazine holders I've shown you in past posts. This way students can just grab the baggie they need out of the magazine holder rather than sorting through a bunch of stuff mixed together in a bin.
Personal Outdoor Equipment
Since students are going to be in a specified area with only their classmates during recess, they may be placed in an area with no sand and they cannot share toys. I've put a suggestion in my September newsletter for parents to send in a tennis ball and/or skipping rope labelled with their child's name. This way the students will have something to play with and we don't have to worry about students sharing equipment.
The students can keep the equipment in their backpack, since they won't have access to their cubby area this year. That's why having some small pieces of equipment, rather than a soccer ball, is maybe a better option this year. This will be good not only for recess, but for gym classes too!
Bonus! Wireless Microphone
A lot of the teachers in the US that I follow on Instagram talked about how much they had to strain their voices to teach through a mask. On their advice, I decided to purchase a relatively cheap wireless microphone to make it easier for the kiddos to hear me and save my voice. Here's the link to the one I bought off Amazon, but there are tons of options that are less or more expensive, depending on your preference. Obviously, this is not necessary, but may be a nice bonus :)
To sum it up
In a year like no other, creativity and flexibility are going to be all the rage. I hope some of these ideas help you in your classroom! Bonne rentrée!
I'll be taking next week off, but don't fret! In two weeks, I'll be back and talking about morning routines and mindset!
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