Building a classroom community enables teachers to address their students' needs that may be lacking at home. It gives teachers the opportunity to teach students about respect, responsibility and how to positively relate to their peers. Here are a few ways that you can build community in the classroom.
Welcoming Students to their Community
Send a Letter - Teachers can start taking steps to building a classroom community long before school even starts, just by anticipating the concerns students may have during the first few days. "Where will the bathroom be?" "Will I make friends?" "What time will lunch be?" Teachers can ease these fears by sending a student welcome letter that answers a majority of these questions a few days before school starts.
Organize Your Classroom - Just by the way you organize your classroom will send a message to students. If you display a lot of their work, or allow them to be a central part of the decorating it will show students that they are part of the classroom community.
Learning Students' Names - Take the time to learn and remember students' names. This will convey to the student that you respect them.
Ease Anxiety with Activities - During the first few days/weeks of school you can help break the ice and ease first day jitters with a few back-to-school activities. This will help welcome students and is a great way to start building a sense of community in the classroom.
Introducing Students to their Classroom Environment
The best way to help children feel a sense of community in the classroom is to first introduce students to their classroom environment. Show them around the classroom and teach them the procedures and daily routines that they will need to learn for the school year.
Making Classroom Meetings a Priority
The number one way that you can build a successful classroom community is to take the time to hold a classroom meeting everyday. This is an essential part of building a community in the classroom because it enables students to speak, listen, exchange ideas, and settle differences. By participating in these daily meetings it shows students what it means to be a part of a community that respects, and accepts one another and their opinions. Set aside time each day for students to discuss what's happening inside or outside the classroom. Make it a tradition each morning, during transition periods, or at the end of the day. Take this time to help students develop their listening and speaking skills, how to be respectful of others, and take turns participating. You will be surprised how excited students become to attend these daily meetings. They are a great opportunity for children to develop life long communication skills.
Promoting Respectful Interactions
The ability for children to learn to relate to one another and make positive relationships is essential in a classroom community. It is imperative that teachers model respectful interactions and teach students the importance of working together. Model appropriate and respectful interactions, such as greeting students with a hand shake or using kind words. Students learn by seeing, and when they see you act appropriately they will follow your lead. Teach students how to treat one another with respect and model behaviors that you expect children to have while in the classroom. Acknowledge respectable behavior and be sure to point it out when you see it. This will encourage others to behave and act accordingly.
Promoting Problem-Solving Skills
If you ask a teacher what one thing they wish all students would walk away from school learning you would probably here the response, the ability for students to solve problems on their own. The ability to problem solve in a non-violent way is a life long skill that all people should have. Helping children learn how to resolve a conflict on their own is challenging, but is a skill that must be taught. Here are a few ways teachers can promote problem-solving skills in the classroom:
- Model how to handle anger in the classroom
- Address issues as at class a the daily community meeting
- Incorporate conflict-resolving activities into the curriculum