Back to School 2020: Building Community for Connection and Learning

Schools are opening this fall in formats that combine in-person and remote learning in unprecedented ways. While educators might be eager to start “catching students up” on what they missed this past spring, nurturing community, building relationships, and supporting students’ social–emotional needs first will provide the essential foundation before introducing academic content.

This resource was part of our Election 2020 collection, designed to help you teach about voting rights, media literacy, and civic participation, in remote and in-person settings.

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Students will return with widely varied experiences with the traumas and disruptions that have occurred in the last six months. Use these reflection prompts and strategies to help you center relationships and care in your teaching. 

Routines are a key strategy for creating calm, continuity, and predictability as classes shift between face-to-face and remote settings, as may happen throughout this school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Choose from this collection of short, flexible activities to reorient students to school, help them get to know each other and build relationships, and create classroom community.

Starting School in Person?

If your school year is beginning in the physical classroom, you can still use our suggested activities as you develop your lesson plans. Or check out our Back to School Toolkit, a one-week unit designed to help you launch a reflective and courageous classroom community during the opening days of school.

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Back to School: Prioritizing Students' Social-Emotional Needs

Join us as we share teaching strategies and flexible resources designed to help you begin getting to know your students as individuals and facilitating the process of creating an open, supportive, and reflective classroom community.


Professional Development

We have a wide range of professional development opportunities available to meet your needs, including online courses and seminars and free webinars on timely issues or historical periods.

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Get More Resources and Strategies for Remote Learning

View our resources for supporting teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.