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Building Community in the Classroom: Ideas & Activities Video

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  • 0:04 Strong Classroom Communities
  • 0:35 Introductions
  • 1:36 Student Jobs
  • 2:25 Classroom Projects
  • 3:20 Communication &…
  • 3:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derek Hughes
Building a strong classroom community is key for creating a safe, productive learning environment. This lesson will give some tips and activities you can use to build a strong community in your classroom.

Strong Classroom Community

Building a strong classroom community is incredibly important for helping your students to feel safe and comfortable in the learning environment. A classroom community is a cooperative environment within a classroom, in which students play different roles, hold varying responsibilities, and successfully navigate interactions amongst one another.

Mr. Jefferson, a second grade teacher at an elementary school, understands the importance of a strong classroom community. Every year, he incorporates several activities to help establish and nurture his classroom community.

Introductions

First, and most importantly, make sure that the students know each other. The rest of the tips and activities will mean nothing if students are afraid to interact with one another because they haven't met or are shy. During the first week of a new class, Mr. Jefferson uses an icebreaker activity to not only help students get to know each other, but to teach a lesson about teamwork.

The only item needed for this activity is a ball of yarn. Mr. Jefferson begins by holding the end of the yarn, introducing himself to the class with his name and a fact about himself, and rolling the ball of yarn to a student. The student grabs the piece of yarn, repeats the process, then rolls the ball to another student while still holding on to his piece of the yarn. This process is repeated until all students have a turn and they've created a complicated web of yarn.

Before the yarn is put away, Mr. Jefferson takes the opportunity to teach a short lesson about teamwork, pointing out that each student played an important part in the creation of the web. The icebreaker helps the students get to work together while getting to know one another.

Student Jobs

To create a parallel between his classroom community and communities at large outside of school, Mr. Jefferson creates jobs in the classroom, accompanied by responsibilities. Mr. Jefferson makes sure that there are enough jobs so that each student has something they are responsible for.

Some of Mr. Jefferson's classroom jobs include a student ambassador (who opens the door for and greets guests to the classroom), a messenger (who carries notes to and from the office), and an attendance person (who is responsible for taking roll every morning). Each of these jobs is assigned to a certain student for a set amount of time, be it a week or more.

By giving students jobs and holding them accountable for completing them, Mr. Jefferson emulates a society outside of the classroom. Just as each citizen is responsible for a small part of their community, so is each student in Mr. Jefferson's classroom.

Classroom Projects

Mr. Jefferson also builds community in his classroom by having his students work together on classroom projects. Such projects range from creating a classroom billboard to writing a class newsletter to send home to parents. With each project, Mr. Jefferson makes sure that each of his students has a job and is working collaboratively with the rest of the class.

One of his favorite projects to assign students early on in the year is decorating the classroom door. Students are responsible for coming up with a theme, creating the decorations, and assigning jobs to one another. Although Mr. Jefferson may guide his students along the way, the bulk of the project is left entirely up to the class.

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