The return to school after the summer holidays is a very important and delicate moment for students, teachers and families. In particular, the change of school order is a challenging step, because there are many expectations and fears related to the new and the unknown.
In September, students embark on a nine-month journey. To face it you need: a good equipment, a detailed map of the way to go to reach the goal and, not a negligible detail, good adventure companions!
The classroom is the main learning environment within our school system. Creating a good atmosphere when returning to class means working on three relationships: between classmates, between teachers and students (as well as between teachers themselves) and, equally important, the relationship with study and in general with the school commitment. The perception that students have of being in the classroom with the different teachers and the values shared within it can influence their motivation and their commitment. In order for the class to become a group it is essential to share a goal , recognize its role and be able to achieve it .
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD CLASS ATMOSPHERE
It is important to keep in mind that the dynamics of a group arise from opposing forces that balance in a necessary and stimulating tension . It is therefore necessary to know how to give importance to various factors: to the shared rules, to the positive image of the group, to communication, to activities, to contents. Before even adhering to the rules of conduct necessary to work together, students must feel that this is their class, develop a sense of belonging.
To have a good atmosphere when returning to class, it is therefore important that there are:
Clarity : the teacher’s expectations regarding students’ learning and behavior in the classroom must be high (rather than minimal) and clearly shared with the whole class group; clarity of the aims of each lesson is required, both with respect to the wider program of the related disciplines, and to the aims and objectives of the school.
Participation : intended as a real possibility for all pupils to play an important role during lessons, through discussion, questions, work on material prepared by the teacher and other similar activities.
Support : encouragement for commitment and attention to emotional aspects to motivate students to try new things and learn from mistakes.
Interest: the class as a stimulating place, full of learning stimuli but also free of interruptions and sources of disturbance.
Environment : on the one hand, comfortable, well-organized, clean and attractive physical places; on the other, a non-noisy social environment, respectful of differences, fair in evaluations, safe and non-violent.
TO GO BACK TO CLASS ON THE RIGHT FOOT …
Here are some activity suggestions for teachers who in September will welcome the first classes of lower and upper secondary schools.
- 1 Treasure hunt : it is an activity that allows students to get to know not only their own class, the objects and people “kept” in it, but also the other spaces of the school. The game in small teams can facilitate the knowledge between the companions. The treasure? Books or other educational material that will remain available to the whole class.
- 2 ” The rules of the class … each to his own “: in order for each student to take on direct responsibility for life in the classroom and for the management of the internal regulations, some rules can be agreed together. Once established (through the circle time methodology), we divide into small groups, each of which becomes the “guardian” of a rule and defines the attitudes to be taken to respect it and the penalties to be applied for those who do not observe it. It is important to foresee various moments during the year in which, in group and with the whole class, the real application and possible revision of the rules are verified.
- 3 Ciak- turns! Collaboration and mutual respect do not arise spontaneously: one way to nurture them is to carry out dramatization activities that allow active participation even for pupils with greater learning difficulties. You can stage topics that are being addressed in the various disciplines or assign roles and themes on which to make kids improvise. Immediately after the performances, the audience and the actors can share their feelings by respecting the rule of avoiding giving judgments to others and always remaining on their own experiences: “It seemed to me”, “I heard”, “I liked it”.
“Each student plays his instrument, the difficult thing is to get to know our musicians well and find harmony. A good class is not a regiment that marches in step, it is an orchestra that tries the same symphony (D. Pennac) “.