Photo: A sign outside Oakland Elementary in Illinois welcomes students back after a period of remote learning. (Courtesy of Antioch School District)
Principals strive to build a culture that’s safe, welcoming, and inspiring to the students who walk through the school’s doors or log on to its learning platforms. But the pandemic has made it difficult, if not impossible, to bolster school spirit.
At the start, some 3 million students vanished from school rosters, and the rest have been moving from in-person to remote and hybrid learning. So when the pandemic ends and it’s safe to bring kids back to school, the task of building a sense of belonging and a motivation to learn will start anew. And it will have to be different from the efforts we made before the pandemic, with a greater emphasis on students' well-being as opposed to assessments.
6 Ways to Build Positive School Culture Post-Pandemic
Dr. Bradford Hubbard, superintendent of Antioch School District in Illinois, and Neil Lesinski, principal of Cary-Grove High School in Community District 155 in Illinois, know how challenging it can be to boost school spirit under normal circumstances. They say it’s important to start planning now for the next school year.
Here are their recommendations for building positive school culture post-pandemic.
1. Be Prepared to Address School Avoidance Issues
The first few weeks of the transition to full-time learning will be critical. Some students may have missed more than a year of school and may not be too keen on returning. Principals will have to win them over. Lesinski advises: “Don’t just tell students to get involved. Don’t ask them to do more. Instead, motivate students to fully engage during the course of a normal school day.”
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