Ways to Create Connection While You're Physically Separated
March 24, 2020
School Policies and Procedures, Professional Leadership, Coronavirus
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- Institute a daily mindfulness practice with your class; even if you have never done this before it is a very settling and calming way to create a feeling of togetherness. Mindfulness is all about an appreciation for the present moment, examining who we are, and cultivating a sense of unity with ourselves and the world around us. Mindfulness helps to reduce stress and maintain a sense of self and peace amidst times that might not be the norm.
- Turn your school's weekly message or d’var torah from the Head of School into a video message so that all your community members can see you and hear your voice. They will miss you and will be very happy to “see you.”
- Let a student (or group of siblings) record daily “announcements” and post on your school site; this can include the date (folks will forget what day it is!) something about this day in history, a fact from what they did in one of their classes and any birthday greetings. This will require an adult to assist in coordinating, but a great way to create school spirit and excitement to see who is “on” for the day.
- Schedule classes to eat lunch “together” a few times a week. This is also an opportunity for check-in’s with guidance counsellors, clergy or your Israeli staff who may have had to return home and are now in quarantine.
- If right for your school, engage in tefilah (prayer) and say brachot together. Make the time sacred and special. Ask students prepare brief d’vrei torah.
- Encourage teachers to check in individually with each of their students. Children will miss the personal attention and knowing the teachers care how they are will make a big impact. Teachers should create schedules for themselves to continuously reach each student.
- Institute class/school contests. Yeshivat Har Torah recently hosted a contest about folding laundry; how creative can you be?
- Create a class song that everyone will sing each time they wash their hands.
- Be sure to include group work as part of your virtual assignments; care less about the content/outcome of the work and more about the room you are making for socialization and interaction.
- Allow for - and plan for! - some levity with your students. They, and you, will greatly benefit from it.
- Livestream a Havdalah service at whatever the right time is for your school.
- Share lots of pictures and videos. Just like when family lives far away, this is a meaningful and simple method to make people feel they are together.
- Join together virtually for communal moments: schools and communities have already organized virtual shiva calls, celebrated virtual b'nai mitzvah, and come together for virtual pre-Shabbat singing.
- Consider ways to integrate school staff members into different moments' of the students' days. Some teachers are recording bedtime stories, sharing school appropriate photos, starting online chess competitions and having virtual sports days.
- Invite your staff members who are not usually “in” the classroom (office staff, front door greeters, etc) to join some of these activities so that they too continue to feel part of your community. When you break into smaller groups, they can be an “adult in the room” and give assistance where needed. They can read one on one with younger students or help an older student edit a paper.
- Wear school SWAG! When you have larger gatherings, have everyone show school spirit.
- Remember the teacher lounge...open up a virtual one so staff and faculty can hang out together. They need socialization as much as the students. Maybe have a set time or two each week.
- Have a community Challah Bake (seeing lots of these!)
- Gather for an early Kabbalat Shabbat
- All school mid day rikud (dance) breaks
- Have parent coffees (perhaps after the children go to sleep)
Send grandparents links to schools wide or class celebrations such as Kabbalat Shabbat of Havdalah