Lessening the Beginning of the School Year Jitters

I am blessed to work in a school, and a school division, that places building relationships at the forefront of learning. Because of this, we always kick off the school year with Opening Day Conferences where students and their families get to meet their teachers individually before the first day of school. The goal of these conferences “is to ensure the best possible start to the school year and provide parents and students an opportunity to ask their teacher questions and share valuable and pertinent information. Teachers also get the chance to share information related to their hopes for the school year.”

This year, because we are in the middle of the forth wave of the pandemic, these conferences were held virtually. Although this saddened me because I love seeing students and families in person, I completely understood why and was glad that our division made this decision in order to keep everyone safe. I imagined, though, that many of my students might have added anxiety coming to school on the first day not having had a tour of our classroom, and not fully understanding what to expect when it comes to simple procedures that adults take for granted (ex: where do we meet before school, which door will we use to enter, where is our classroom in relation to that door, where do I sit, what do I do when I get to my spot, etc.). I truly wanted students to feel excited for the first day of school and I wanted to lessen the anxiety they felt before having to leave their families for a whole day for the first time (in our division, kindergarten is only half of a day… and even then, last year many students learned from home for the last bit of the school year). And so, I had the idea of creating a virtual tour for my students that I’d play during our virtual conferences. I had in mind that I would take a video of important details that could have easily been overlooked, and give them information that they might retain more easily since it was in context. This is something that I would have done in person had the conferences been at school, so the video seemed like the next best thing. My same grade colleagues and I got together and decided what we wanted to share with our students. Here’s what my little video ended up looking like:

A simple video that, from start to finish, took less than an hour to put together. In my opinion, it was well worth it as I saw students’ faces light up when they saw their spots, or their friends’ names, or when I could see them relax just a bit more knowing they knew what to expect when they got to school for their first day of grade 1.

How do you ensure you start the year off on the right foot? How do you focus on building relationships with students and their families? How do you lessen the beginning of the school year jitters?

A special thanks to my incredible same grade colleagues who immediately jumped onboard with this little project. It was fantastic to bounce ideas off of one another and create a list of things we thought would be important to share with students. Je vous aimes et je suis tellement contente de travailler avec vous!

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