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School Unity: How to Foster a Sense of Belonging in a Remote Environment


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Grade Level PreK, Grades K-12
Resource Type Activity

About This Lesson

There’s been a lot of debate lately about students going back to school as the pandemic rages on. Ideally, of course, we’d have students back in the classroom full time for the fall term. At the moment, however, that’s just not a safe situation for teachers, students, administrators, and families. 

Rather than risk the safety of students and teachers, many schools are moving forward with remote learning, at least in the short term. From kindergarten to university, students and educators are navigating new territory together. This is a tough adjustment and it is leading to many students falling behind, feeling isolated, or simply not getting much out of the curriculum. 

So, how can you create school unity and foster a sense of belonging when students are attending school virtually? Here are some tips. 

Continue to Encourage Student Diversity While Remote 

Remote learning doesn’t give educators a pass to ignore diversity and inclusion in the virtual classroom. Even though students aren’t virtually together, creating a sense of unity means celebrating student diversity, confronting challenging topics, and working together to create a safe and respectful learning space. 

Supporting a diverse classroom virtually might mean rethinking both the workload and the curriculum. Are you incorporating different voices and debunking discriminatory myths and stereotypes? To feel safe, students need to know that they will be supported and that their individual challenges are taken into consideration. 

In encouraging inclusion educators also need to understand that remote learning creates additional challenges for some students, who may have trouble with remote learning or may not have access to certain resources other students take for granted. Consider incorporating different formats and options for assignments that allow all students to engage with the material and learn. 

School Leaders Should Personally Check In With Students 

Now, more than ever, the spotlight is on educational leaders. School leaders are struggling to make crucial decisions right now to ensure that students have access to a quality education remotely. But it’s also important for leaders to take the time out of their day to check in with students and see how they’re doing. 

It’s very easy for students who are struggling to fade into the background when the classroom is virtual. In order to foster a sense of belonging and to ensure that students don’t start to fall behind, leadership needs to reach out and get involved with the daily struggles of students. This will not only help students feel supported, but it will also give school leaders more information that they can use when making decisions about remote learning. 

Promote the Benefits of Going Back to School 

The pandemic is affecting students of all ages, and some people are postponing going back to school because of the pandemic. However, it may actually be the ideal time for people who are interested in switching careers and furthering their education. Educational leaders can create a richer classroom experience by encouraging students to enroll and become part of their community. 

The pandemic has caused huge shifts in the labor market. People who have been laid off or think there will be big changes in their industry might want to consider going back to school now, so they can be prepared for the workforce. With that said, they must be prepared to engage with remote learning and make an effort to help unify the classroom for a sense of belonging and enhanced learning. 

Establish Regular Student Activities & Regroups

Regardless of grade level, students need to socialize in school. Being able to participate in class discussions and to make friends during breaks and activities is important for the learning process and for social development. Students need to feel connected to one another in order to thrive in the classroom, whether physical or virtual. 

Educators need to establish time for students to do nothing more than socialize and have fun together. This is definitely trickier remotely, but there are tons of creative options for giving students fun activities they can do together. Whether it’s games, yoga, discussions, or regroups, students need to be able to connect with one another to create school unity and that all-important sense of belonging. 

Remember, not every minute needs to be scheduled. Kids enjoy interacting with one another, whether in the lunchroom or over Zoom. 



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August 23, 2020
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