The longer our schools stay online, the more we need to pamper the feeling of belonging to a bigger community. Turning on the computers and joining Zoom do not do the trick – it turns into an obligation in no time, followed by boredom and lack of motivation. Creating the sense of belonging to the school community calls for specific actions from schools, but, as always, there is no time and human resources to work out a comprehensive action plan. Whatever is to be done, should roll itself once settled and clearly be free of charge not to put strain on the administration or teachers in charge.
Post stage-appropriate (for example, pre-school, primary, middle or high school sets) news/updates every now and then. It does not have to be an official announcement or anything big. Minor advancements, campus changes, a useful link, a super-simple recipe: something shared for everyone, something all students will know and can talk about later.
Gamify your school life
Gamification/badges: students can collect badges for their achievements regardless of their grades. By the end of the year they can collect their ‘portfolio’ which can be later used for the recommendation letters. It does not have to be related to the direct learning; some possible examples of badges: supporter, conversationalist, quizmaster, night owl/weekend warrior, all sorts of mastery badges to acknowledge the end of the big topic etc.
There are certain websites which allow you to create those badges and connect to the course you teach if you use Canvas. Try Badgr.com and your students would definitely appreciate it.
Breakfast/lunch with a teacher/admin: people build connection over food much easier. A brief call to share a meal and chat about a day. Our students should know the members of the school community whether they meet in the classroom or not.
I challenge you!
School challenges: little self-care tasks which will take no more than 5 minutes to finish with a photo as a proof.
Welcome to our space
Bring in guests: just the way we had guest speakers from universities, we still can hold online assemblies, where we can invite people from different areas to share their experience, answer the questions. It does not have to be a big deal, a 20-minute chat can perfectly fulfil the purpose.
Hold live events: depending on the government regulations at the moment we still can bring together our students outside of school for a meetup when it comes to a special occasion (end of the exam session will do just well). It does not have to be something big for all grades, subject-based; homeroom groups can work as well. The only requirement is not to turn it into another class.
How are you? No, really. How are you?
Regular student check-ins (in Canvas): a few simple questions to answer to see how they are doing emotionally, if they need help or they are on track. It can be handled instead of the homeroom sessions which have been cancelled.