Why Classroom Community?
As we transition to a world of “post-pandemic,” many have felt the weight of social anxiety or challenge as the world begins to return to normal. Students return to the classroom with their fellow classmates that maybe they’ve never known in person. Parents and teachers alike have felt their own social challenges coming out of a pandemic era. From having all work meetings online to canceling the annual Christmas party, the workplace also socially faced its share of challenges. The new reality we face is exciting for some and daunting for others. During the pandemic, the classroom struggled online in different ways. Students and teachers found it hard to connect personally. Now that students are returning to school, creating a classroom community seems imperative to promote social and academic growth.
A thriving classroom community can result in many great things. Students are freer to make mistakes and learn from them. Collaborative learning is promoted in a close-knit classroom. Learning is fun when students look forward to being together. Teachers, how do you cultivate a safe classroom environment where both trust and learning can happen?
Here are 5 ways to come alongside your students and cultivate a safe environment
- Let students speak.
With a curriculum and syllabus hanging over your shoulder, you might feel anxious about sticking to a strict schedule in the classroom. When a student begins to share their life in a moment that isn’t the most appropriate, don’t be so quick to get them back on track; let them share and ask questions. Perhaps you can even steer the conversation back to the lesson. Allowing students to speak, even when it doesn’t seem like the perfect moment, acts as a sign to both the student speaking and their classmates that sharing life is accepted.
- Create more lessons that involve group work and partner work.
Group work promotes collaboration and builds teamwork. Take time to monitor the groups to ensure they’re working harmoniously together. Taking the time to sit with the students as they work together can help build trust. Let the students practice skills like time management, positive reinforcement towards their peers, and leadership.
- Give students responsibilities.
While giving homework, projects, and research papers is inevitable, create other opportunities to give students responsibilities. If they’re absent, encourage them to write an email themselves. If you’re planning a classroom party, assign students different tasks to help with the party, i.e., clean-up team, food team, the planning committee, etc. Let the students be the teacher for a day, give them a concept they must master, and teach to the rest of the class.
- Cheer for each other.
Competition is healthy for personal growth, but it can also create rivalry among students. Get in the habit of praising students publicly and encouraging the rest of the class to join in. Be sensitive to not always honoring the same student over and over again. Every student has praiseworthy qualities. Look out for these qualities and model how to acknowledge them in the classroom.
- Keep in close contact with parents.
Who knows a student better than their own families? Leverage the support of a student’s family. Send classroom newsletters. If a student is involved with extracurricular activities, go and attend and get to know their families. Create assignments that require family participation. Invite parents into the classroom when appropriate. The support of a parent can go a long way in the academic growth of your student and the promotion of the classroom community.
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