“Kid behaviors are going to be crazy when school starts,” a teacher told me earlier this week. “It’s like the pandemic kicked up a giant storm around Spring Break, and five months later, the dust has yet to settle. Do you have suggestions for the start of school?” Her question got me thinking about three of my nine Positive Behavior Principles and some Covid implications.

Modeled behaviors are internalized.  Ever walk into a room and get a feel for the climate without anyone saying a word? We internalize the energy of the environment created by those around us. So, heading back to school, be a positive role model and grounding force for your kiddos. If you are calm, encouraging, and flexible, students will surely follow your lead.

Attention magnifies behavior.  Attention is power, and the more we obsess on Covid concerns, the bigger those issues will grow. Although we should address student concerns and validate feelings, guard against overly focusing on the obstacles, fears and frustrations of the pandemic. Rather, use engaging project-based activities to help students shift their focus away from the worries, and towards the learning, which is our ultimate goal.  

Behaviors are often the result of ingrained habits.  Once formed, habits are hard to break. The good news for teachers is that each fall we are afforded an opportunity to develop new interactional habits with students. Start the year off with healthy rituals like greeting students with strong eye contact or sending them individual encouraging notes. These simple gestures will go a long way in strengthening positive relationships with your students, while also building good habits right from the start.

It’s true. We are starting off this school year during turbulent times – however, I’m not so much worried about kid behaviors. For I feel certain it will be adult behaviors that determine whether or not the Covid-crazy dust gets stirred up even further or whether it settles. I am hopeful that if enough of us remember this, the latter will be the case.

Make it a great start to the school year – virtual though it might be.