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How to Teach THE MASK

Yes, you read that right! How do we teach THE MASK? As school systems work toward reopening, like mine, teachers are really struggling with how to teach students in masks. Let's go back to the very basics of what we learned in college. If you want students to learn something well, you must teach it explicitly to them. Every step, every idea!

Wait, What?!

That's right! Remember all those Harry Wong and other experts presented to us then, and over all the years you may have been teaching! We must be explicit. Let's break down how that will look.

Idea #1: Rules

The first thing you need to plan for teaching how to wear a mask is a basic sets of rules. Think through procedures for your day. What is it that you will have to explicitly teach? And, think about teaching the non-examples as well. This is where it gets tricky! You are going to have a room full of non-examples within a few minutes. Especially kids touching their masks! So, that leads to Step #2 in teaching the mask!

Idea #2: Touching the Mask

WE, and I use this to point it out again to myself, WE should not be touching our masks. How do we go about teaching the why? First, students could access something to read about why we don't touch our masks. What they will discover is that when they are touching their masks, they are exposing themselves through touch to the virus. As soon as we go to move or adjust our masks, our hands become full of whatever is on the outside!

An even better way to teaching the mask safety rules is to do an experiment! Simply grab some coca powder in the baking section, straws for each student, AND some paper towels to act as "masks". You can even cut and staple them to look like masks. Provide each student with a straw and a little bit of the cocoa. Students will then tap the coca onto the mask, simulation the virus. Students will see that the virus is on the outside of the paper towels but not the inside. This easy experiment can solve a lot of the issues with students touching the masks.

Idea 3: Stamina

Here's where the real problem lies. None of our students are going to have stamina to wear a mask unless they have been practicing. I know there was a time I couldn't make it grocery shopping without taking off my mask! So, how do we teach the mask wearing stamina? Easy - with "MASK BREAKS"! Just like we find an isle where we are alone and can take off our masks, they need this break! Set the timer for a period of time to build stamina. Then allow students a short, in your seat-or even better-a short outside break! Then have them record their successes and how they felt! Over time, stamina will happen! I mentioned the grocery store experiment. Well, I decided to build stamina. I made myself start to wear a mask as long as I could. I walked out of the grocery store one day and realized that I never took a mask break! Then, I did it again! This can be done with students, simply by explicitly teaching stamina!

Idea 4: The Dos and Don'ts

Teaching the mask wearing rules may not be enough! Kids are kids, and that means they are going to play. Remember those non-examples! Yep, this is the time to show and reflect on the non-examples! Students who are given the non-examples can then better understand what the correct uses of masks will be! Have them examine samples and write out their thoughts. Sharing of ideas can happen even at social distancing moments. This might be one way that students can connect to each other, because we know that it is going to be very difficult to do cooperative, team building activities! (Still racking my brain over that one!) This makes teaching the use of masks more enjoyable for kids!

This is just a basic overview of what you can and should do to be explicit with students. There are so many more things to do to teach them about our current situation. Why we take temperatures, why we sit in rows and columns, and what germs are! Luckily, I've done some of that work for you! Wear a Mask: Posters and Passages can make all of these explicit teaching easier! It is print and go ready and includes a set of posters you can use to teach how to properly wear a mask! There are also a variety of options about storing masks and sending them home, so you can meet your needs in your classroom and school! It also comes with basic and more advanced reading passages! Everything you need for your Covid 19 return to school!

Needless to say, how to teach the mask wearing guidelines is just one more layer of crazy in this experience! Let me know what you think! I'd love to hear any ideas or thoughts you have on this!

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