Create a quiet and peaceable classroom to adapt to life on campus
Creating a sense of calm and peace has never been more important to my class culture. My students get used to sitting in a classroom for more than seven hours a day. Some of them haven’t been on campus for a year and a half. I’m also getting used to face-to-face teaching and relying on nine years of “teacher muscle memory” to get through. Cultivating a classroom that begins and ends with peaceful calm helps both me and my students reorient and focus.
Alleviate the midday chaos
I see my first group of children once before lunch and their specialty course, and then again after lunch. Often the difference in their serenity is like day and night. The calm and concentrated mood of the morning has given way to chaos, frenzy and unusual energy. In order to keep the social distance of the students outside, my school allocated a larger area for lunch and hanging out.
That’s all well and good, but with great freedom comes more responsibility, and that’s not exactly easy for middle school students. To help them focus again when they return to my room, I often have a nature scene from YouTube projected onto my TV (this changes with the season). More specifically, my favorite scenes are on an endless loop with ambient noise, like the quiet beach scene above. Check out these other classroom screensavers.
Breaking up long lesson times
Compared to my students who I see before and after lunch, my second group of students has to be with me for a solid two hours, with no breaks for specialties or lunch in between. This is a LONG time focusing, listening and being in a classroom. After the first lesson, I give my students a six-minute (sometimes seven, eight …) break. They can leave my room to chat and have a snack, or they can stay inside and read or work on their Chromebooks.
Having this time so as not to listen to me or work on math / science is a brain hernia that is essential to my students’ focus. Are you coming back completely calm and ready to learn again? Let’s be real! No. It’s 2 p.m. and they have a class after mine. Does the break allow reorientation and rest as if you had not had a break? I like to think so much. To make the transition back inside easier, I often put on a Spotify playlist like Instrumental Study. Explore more relaxing music for the classroom and our list of Apple Music playlists by topic.
Implement zen, calm, quiet, time
I noticed very quickly that my students are finding it unusually difficult to sit still and pay attention (look … they haven’t had to stay in school for seven hours in over a year and a half). I found that I had to back up so my own frustration with the interruption didn’t reach dizzying heights. I’ll be honest when I say I’m not much into extrinsic motivators, but something had to be done for the sake of both the students’ sanity and my own. I thought about what the students wanted (chat, walk around outside and do something of their own choosing) and decided that they deserve it.
Zen, Calm, Quiet Time goes like this: Students are challenged to enter the physical space of the classroom, get their materials, and find some quiet activity. My first group does this when she comes back from lunch, and my second group does it from her break between long periods of time with them. I check them to see how long it takes for each student to work quietly at their desk. I set a baseline first, then the next day they tried to beat their time.
Teacher, this could be the toughest transition of your career (I know it was for me and I’m only on day 9). Spend the time creating a space that will benefit not only your students and their needs, but your own sanity and peace of mind as well.
How do you create a quiet and peaceful classroom? Share in the comments below!
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Looking for relaxing videos and music? Watch “25 Relaxing Videos For Online And Personal Classrooms”.