Back to School,  Schedule

Planning for Success in 2020

Teachers know planning for success is key to creating a positive learning environment. The 2020 school year will be very different than anything we’ve ever seen in education so it’s even more important to have a plan as you set up the classroom and make a daily schedule.

We wish we could just do what we’ve done in the past to get ready for Back to School.

But wishing won’t give us success in our classroom. Planning for success in 2020 will take effort.

Let’s use our energy to think and plan for success instead of wishing and hoping that everything will just work out!

Be Successful with Your Classroom Set-Up

Planning for success begins before you start rearranging furniture, setting up centers, and moving everything around several times. Your classroom set-up will be less stressful if you think about what will be different in 2020 than when you set up your classroom last year?

The CDC has issued a list of guidelines for schools to follow so that’s a good place to start. Look at your state Department of Education or licensing agencies for child care and preschools to find the requirements you’ll need to meet.  Your director or principal may have additional measures in place as well. Once you know the expectations for your school, here are a few things to ponder before setting up your classroom.

  • How many students will be in my room? Are the student/teacher ratios different due to COVID-19 precautions? How can I rearrange tables, shelves, furniture to meet distance guidelines? Do I need to move some items out of the room and where will I store them?
  • Will I need more centers to allow for social distancing? Are there guidelines I must follow to limit the number of students in a specific area? Do I have adequate activities available to reduce the need for shared items between students? What centers do I need to modify? What can I use for individual play if a classroom sensory tub is not permitted?  How can I modify the dramatic play area in order to meet cleaning guidelines of toys & materials? Can I take classroom learning resources and create individual activities with them?
  • How can I meet for small group instruction? Will I need to do one on one instruction instead of small groups? Will I have a table for small groups? 
  • What changes do I need to make for circle time? Can my class meet for large group on the circle time rug without being too close together? Do I need to have individual carpet squares to give students their own space? 
  • What will I keep student supplies in and where will I store it? Community supply buckets might not be allowed so what else can I use? What supplies do I want each student to have? How will I label each student’s supplies? Do I have a central place in my classroom to store individual student supplies? 
  • Where will we keep backpacks and lunchboxes?  Does my current cubby system or storage area allow for keeping a child’s personal items separated from another student’s belongings? 

After you’ve thought about all those different situations and you’re almost done getting everything in place, be mindful of the fact it still might need a few adjustments!

Plan for Success with Your Daily Schedule

So now that your classroom meets the necessary requirements, let’s think about planning for success with our daily schedule.

During normal, non COVID-19 times, your school day schedule might have included a large group time, snack & lunch, learning centers, small group instruction, specials, recess, and a few other activities.  

In 2020, your daily schedule will very likely be impacted by different health and safety procedures you will be required to follow. Before you create a schedule for your classroom, you’ll need to answer these questions. 

5 Questions to Ask When Planning Your Schedule

  • How will temperature checks change our morning routine? If part of your state guidelines include daily wellness screenings, you might need to modify your arrival schedule and routines. The morning arrival process could possibly be staggered so students will be entering the classroom over a longer period of time. What activities will you plan for this arrival timeframe? If you’ve done a morning Table Time in the past, what modifications can you make to those activities while meeting health and safety requirements? 
  • Will we have more time for outside play? Some schools may encourage additional outside play as it can be deemed safer to be outdoors than in a small, enclosed space of a school building. If your school is promoting this, how will you schedule the additional play time? Will modifications need to be made to ensure there’s only one class using the playground equipment at a time? How will that potentially impact your daily schedule?
  • How much time should I allow for extra handwashing?  Students will need to wash their hands more frequently throughout the school day so you’ll need to consider scheduling extra time to do so. The age of the students and the number of students in a class will be significant factors, too. 
  • What activity will fill our time if we can’t meet together for a large group/circle time? Some teachers might not be able to have a traditional large group gathering due to social distancing measures in place. What will you do instead? Can you modify some circle time activities? Can you incorporate some circle time activities into other times of the day? Is having a large group time outside a possibility?
  • Will carpool & dismissal take longer? Most schools are limiting visitors into the building so your procedure for pickup might be impacted. If there’s a staggered dismissal, you need to think about the length of time it might take and how long children will be waiting in your classroom. Can you provide a safe activity for each child to do during this time to help them wait? What can you do to be efficient at dismissal? 

Brainstorm ways you can set up your classroom and think about your daily schedule before you go to your pre-planning work days. Planning for success won’t make the school year perfect but it will definitely help get you off to a good start.