It’s the first day of September and you know what that means… back to school! (Parents: Hooray! Kids: Boo! Teachers: What already? Sigh, okay let’s do this).
This year is a little different, however. Although it varies from country to country, here in the UK it has been five months since we were last in the classroom. Since the end of March we’ve mostly been sitting in front of computer screens to teach and learn and there’s definitely some anxiety floating around about returning to school after so long, not least because the “rona” hasn’t completely gone away yet. Nonetheless, kids and teachers are chomping at the bit and most of my own students are keen to get back into their regular routine, hang out with their friends and see life return to normal, even if it won’t be as normal as before… not yet.
With that in mind, the first writing prompt goes out to the students (school, university etc) and teachers – treat it like a well-being exercise.
Prompt 1: Write a letter to yourself one week from now. What are you most looking forward to about going back to school? What are you worried about?
Now wait a week and respond to that letter. How did the week go? How do you feel now? Was it everything your past self thought it would be? What advice would you give yourself?
Haunting School Days
Well, I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include some dark and Gothic ideas!
We all have happy memories of our school days, but we also had rumours, ghost stories and urban legends. My friends and I had a collection of classics about our local schools, as well as inventing new ones for torch-lit sleepovers. A mysterious death, an disused classroom, a store cupboard that no student was allowed to enter….
Prompt 2: There was a reason no one went into that classroom, but you just couldn’t resist…
Prompt 3: Imagine you’re visiting your old school, now an abandoned building. As you walk around the dusty halls, you remember your favourite classes, teachers and friends. What are your best memories?
Teacher talk time
Us teachers are always told (these days, at least) that there needs to be more student talk-time than teacher talk-time. I think the ideal ratio is something like 80:20. But it’s been a while since students were in the classroom. Perhaps they’ll be too intimidated to talk, or maybe they’ve forgotten how….
Prompt 4: You are a teacher and it’s your first day back in the classroom in a long time. But the students are all eerily quiet. They don’t put their hands up, don’t respond when you call the by name. They just… stare….
Quite a lot of creepy material for us to chew on this month. I think that says something about the state of mind I’m in on the eve of my return to work. Thank god I don’t see any actual children for a couple of days!