Quick ways to build a positive classroom community
A positive classroom community doesn’t happen by itself.
Teachers develop positive classroom communities with every action, regardless of how small and insignificant the gestures may seem. What makes them work is that they are individualized, personable, and repeated consistently.
To develop a positive classroom community think about groups of strategies you can use.
Before the start of school
Send your students a welcome letter. Many teachers find this strategy useful in reaching out positively to students and their families.
Remember, though that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you’ve had a chance to get into your room and get it ready, insert a picture of the environment. Add one of yourself, too. Remember to include your webpage and a link to a video introducing who you are.
At the start of school
Your students may wonder, “Who are all these people?”
Find out, by having your students work in small groups to answer questions like, “What languages do you speak?” or “What’s your favorite food?” Share stories from summer to begin building rapport.
Distribute student interest surveys to discover more about your students and get them to share it with other by playing the Stand Up Game (Stand up if you . . . ) or Four Corners (Stand next to the sign that best describes your answer: yes, no, maybe, I don’t know).
Respecting your students enough to ask for their input is an invaluable tool when it comes to building a positive classroom community. Encourage the class to help you write your classroom management rules and decide on the consequences for breaking them.
Throughout the school year
Greet your students at the classroom door every day. It’s tempting to prepare for the next class or gulp down a few swallows of coffee, but greeting your students individually tells them that there’s nothing more important at that moment.
Building a positive classroom community doesn’t take much time away from instruction during the year. In fact, it can be part of instruction.
Ask your students to take a moment and write a positive note to someone else or collaborate on a top 10 list with a partner. Connecting the list to what you’re learning in class can be hilarious: what are the top ten things a chemical reaction might say?
Share riddles or a joke of the day at the start of class or as you end your class.
At the end of the year
When it’s time to say goodbye, ask your students to say hello.
Have them write letters of introduction to the incoming students for the following year. Have students write about what new students can expect in your class. Place each letter on one of the desks in the classroom. Now you’re ready to take another “welcome to class” picture. This time, your future students’ mail awaits them.
Building a positive classroom community is fun. Students learn as much about themselves as they learn about others.
In fact, the more your students look for ways in which they are different from each other, the more they’ll discover how similar they are.
That’s a positive classroom community.