By Katie Hull-Brown
Making time for play through music, dance, art and drama
After the disruption to schooling this semester, one of the challenges that teachers face is bringing the class together and building a strong group dynamic. As is the focus at the beginning of every school year, we once again need to make the time to reconnect to students and give space for rebuilding positive relationships within the classroom.
Students will have had different experiences during the COVID-19 disruption to their schooling. They will enter the classroom with different stories and emotions to work through. Methods to engage students and get them working together will differ from class to class. Explore different approaches to find what works best for your class.
Here are some tips to help create a cohesive, engaged and supportive classroom:
Consider physical placement:
Sit or stand in a circle to create a space where everyone is equal and everyone can be seen and heard. Musical games or class discussions are perfect when undertaken in a circle, as they have a community feel.
Bookmark the start and the end of the day with group games to help students connect with each other and their teacher. Making this time for group play brings a lightness to the classroom that can help relieve tension. Students also learn that play is an important form of learning, validated by the teacher.
Model open communication towards your class and encourage it amongst students to build trust, promoting and improving student engagement and consequently their learning. Arts Learning is a great way to foster trust and connect students because of the prevalence of collective projects. The Arts offer students the opportunity to give and receive feedback in a safe environment. When students trust their class, they can take risks in their learning.
Find a vehicle for expression to give students the opportunity to work through their own experience of being away from their class and school community, and to understand how their classmates responded to the situation. Drawing and painting, dancing and moving, role-playing and pretending, and singing and making music together are all valid ways to encourage self-expression.
Creating a collaborative art project or music piece together as a class gives meaning to the students’ experiences during COVID-19 isolation and helps build unity and connection. It also gives teachers insight into how each student is coping with these changes in their world.
We’ve hand-picked some excellent ARTS:LIVE resources to help bring these tips to life. Your classroom will be humming as a unified and supportive group in no time!
Just the simple act of sitting in a circle can bring harmony to the class. This resource has group games that bring everyone together. The videos and support materials make learning them together easy and fun. These activities can be a great quick start or end of day activity.
Students can express their personal experience of the last three months in a collage that can be shared with the class. You may wish to make a class project of it by creating a group collage. This will bring the class together as a united group, enabling them to share experiences that will be similar and different in many ways.
Primary Music Starter Pack
Participating in these music-oriented activities will bring the class together by working as a team. The pack includes loads of quick and engaging activities that teachers and students can try together. These activities can also be adapted to suit students still learning from home as well.
Make a Scene with The Listies
This resource has entertaining videos that show students how to put on a show or skit. This is a great opportunity for students to work in pairs or small groups to act out some of the situations they were in whilst learning at home. Using drama to share experiences can be a great way to bond and to lighten the load of the current world events.