You’ve likely observed that welcoming a new class after summer break can come with a unique set of challenges. Here are ways you can utilize Rhithm to help you have a successful start to the new year. Below you’ll find information on:
Using Rhithm to support your students
When students are not yet in an established routine and faced with a new environment, it is normal for them to have a variety of feelings and behaviors that may impact your ability to teach as effectively as you'd like. Some students may be entering the new school year with dread or sadness that their fun break is over, while other students may be entering the school year with excitement to see old friends, or relief that they once again have access to a safe environment or safe adults, that may not be available to them while school is out.
Our data has shown that students’ likelihood to report feeling anxious is most high during the first few weeks of school. For additional information on using Rhithm to support students experiencing anxiety, check out: Helping students reporting Anxiety
The image above shows the deviation % of how much students have historically selected "Anxious".
In addition to feeling anxious, students may be testing social boundaries, which could lead to increased social conflict, or students may be slow to warm up to others, experiencing loneliness. Lastly, students may struggle to maintain energy levels and attention as they adapt from summer break to a long school day.
Rhithm can help address these common issues present at the start of a school year in these key ways:
A. Establish routine by using Rhithm early & often
We recommend introducing Rhithm into your classroom and having students complete their first Rhithm Check-In as early as possible. This will allow your students to develop the routine of Getting Into Rhithm, including developing self-awareness and emotion regulation skills.
Many of our campuses encourage daily usage; others have found that using Rhithm three times a week is helpful for them. It is up to you and your individual campus or district to decide what is going to work best for your classroom. Check out the article The Neuroscience Behind Getting Into Rhithm, or view our Science of Rhithm videos to learn more about how engaging in the Rhithm Essential or Simplified Wellness Check-Ins can help rewire the brain for lasting regulation skills.
💡 You can schedule Rhithm check-ins ahead of time from the "Events" page, as well as schedule recurring check-ins to help establish routine without needing to start a new live session each day. More info here!
In addition to building healthy habits, having students check in with Rhithm allows you to quickly understand your students' wellness needs, and get a pulse for who may need extra support to be ready to learn by exploring their responses on the Rhithm Dashboard.
Note: If your school is subscribed to the Pro or Hero packages, you may also want to consider deploying a pre-built or custom assessment to your class early in the school year to better understand their wellness needs.
B. Utilize Rhithm to build Trust - Notice your dashboard
Early in the start of the school year, you can utilize Rhithm as an opportunity to build trust and relationships with your students. By noticing and engaging students in conversations based on their Wellness Check-Ins, checking your Teacher Dashboard, reviewing risk alerts, and reading students' notes, you are letting students know their wellness is important to you, and they can trust you to take their well-being needs seriously.
C. Expect changes in energy - and use the Rhithm Toolkit to help
Some students may initially present with very low energy as they adapt to earlier risings and longer days. Other students may display signs of high energy, as they deal with internal anxiety or racing thoughts, taking in the new surroundings.
Videos from the Rhithm Toolkit are an excellent resource to help students manage their energy.
For example, if your class is mentally distracted, or experiencing high energy, you can use Calming videos from the Toolkit, such as “Focused Breathing”, “Head to Toe”, and “Forest Getaway”. You can do this by selecting the “Calm” filter within the Rhithm Toolkit or searching keywords, such as “relax”.
Or, if your class is reporting feeling tired, mentally foggy, or dull, you can use Energizing videos from the Toolkit, such as “Pep Talk”, “River Adventure”, or Seated Cross Crawl” for a quick boost before diving into the next lesson.
More information on using the Rhithm Toolkit can be found here: The Rhithm Toolkit.
Additional implementation tips
A. Establish psychological safety
You’ve likely been told to focus on routines and relationships as students are returning from summer break. At Rhithm, we agree these are key - and here’s why. Strong rapport and routines promote psychological safety. When a student is psychologically safe, they are more able to access the key areas in their brain that promote learning. By focusing on relationships and routines now, you are setting up students for learning throughout the school year.
B. Familiarize yourself with Risk Alerts
Within the Rhithm App, there is the ability to set up Risk Alerts, which are notifications that are given when there is concern regarding a student, such as how they have responded on the Rhithm Check-In. It may be helpful to become aware of any district or campus-wide Risk Alerts set up by your school’s administrators and familiarize yourself with any district policies which may surround those risk alerts. Additional information on risk alerts can be found here: Creating a Risk Alert and Managing and Responding to Risk Alerts.
C. Know a student’s safety needs
The reality is, not all students feel safe at home. By establishing trust with your students, and having the Note Risk Alerts set up, you can be better aware if a student expresses a safety concern that needs to be followed up on or escalated to your administration, according to your school’s individualized protocols.
D. Be aware of chronic hunger
Many students returning from break may not have had access to regular food while away. According to the School Nutrition Association, 29.6 million students receive free and reduced-price meals each day in the United States, making school a primary source for student access to the nutrition their growing bodies need.
You can use the Rhithm Check-In to identify students experiencing chronic hunger.
Supporting your own well-being
It’s not just your students who may have difficulty adapting to a new school year. You may also have similar feelings of anxiety, fatigue, or excitement.
It may help to establish a routine for yourself, not just for the classroom, including ways to nourish yourself outside of work and set boundaries as needed.
As a teacher, you can also use the Rhithm Check-In to develop self-awareness of how you are feeling and received tailored videos appropriate for adults in your role. Additionally, by checking in with the Rhithm App, you are letting your school administrators know how you are doing and modeling the behavior to your students.
If you are feeling stressed about facing a new school year, you might find that using positive self-talk (like in the “Today I Will” or “Enough” video), taking time for deep breathing (like in the “Breath & Reset” video), stretching (like in the “Gentle Neck Stretch” video), or reminding yourself to be in the present using mindfulness strategies may be helpful.
If you are struggling with your mental well-being, it can be important to let your administration know, and advocate for your needs and support.
We hope you are able to use these strategies to have an excellent start to the school year. If you have any feedback or are wanting additional tips, please do not hesitate to reach out to our support team to let us know!