Starting the School Year Strong
The first day of school is often hallmarked with mixed emotions from anticipatory excitement and nerves. A new school year means a chance for new beginnings — new teachers, new classmates, new course loads, and the start of the school year amidst a pandemic is certainly a first. As many schools begin online, hybrid or in person, both students and educators may be feeling a new wave of emotions on their first day. Understandably, stress or disappointment may be running increasingly high. Taking some time at the beginning of the year to set your group, team, or class off on the right foot can build comradery and excitement and lay a positive foundation for the rest of the year.
To effectively set your group up for success, it is important to understand how groups work. As Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development model suggests, every group goes through the following five stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning (Tuckman, 1970).
Group Development Model
Regardless of the size or duration of time, all groups navigate through this dynamic framework. The forming phase occurs when members first meet. Trust has not quite been established and roles and responsibilities are unclear. The start of the school year, for example, is a prime example of when groups begin to form.
When starting in person or a virtual setting, it is crucial not to overlook this forming stage. This is when relationships are built, and the foundation for the rest of the time together is established. Given the social distancing guidelines, forming may seem like a daunting task, but the good news is there are plenty of ways to effectively form in person or online! Chances are, your group may be more eager to develop these connections and build community more than ever. Something as simple as ‘Get to Know You’ activities and sharing experiences can remind people that they are not alone, even if they are physically apart. Taking the time to form prepares the group to grow and effectively work through inevitable challenges together.
For some ideas on how to start this school year off strong, check-out our activities database. If you are an educator looking for help with online tools or virtual activities, don’t miss out on our LIMITED TIME SPECIALS that include 80+ activities with virtual variations and video tutorials! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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