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Building Community in the Classroom: Strategies and Activities

Instructor: Rebecca Harkema

Becca teaches special education and is completing her doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

Building a classroom community takes work, but it also has great rewards. In this lesson, you will learn the importance of and strategies for creating a classroom community.

Definition of a Classroom Community

During every teaching interview that I had, I was asked how I planned to create a classroom community. The interviewers used words like create and plan because building a classroom community takes intentional effort. Teachers need to design activities into their daily classroom routines so that students feel they belong to the group of learners in the classroom.

A classroom community is formed when students come together as a class to work towards the common goal of learning. A classroom community helps students feel valued and connected to the teacher and other students in the class.

Before discussing strategies that can help teachers build a classroom community, let's understand the importance of creating this type of classroom environment.

Benefits of a Classroom Community

There are many benefits of fostering classroom communities. Here are just a few:

  • Fill students' needs for belonging, because they know they can both contribute to the community's success and benefit from its rewards.
  • Provide a way for all students to be included.
  • Allow students to form and maintain positive relationships.
  • Teach students social skills, the importance of collaboration, and a sense of responsibility towards others.

Strategies that Support a Classroom Community

Now that we know what a classroom community is and why it is important, let's take a look at some strategies teachers can use to help foster this type of environment.

Introductory Letter: Teachers can begin the process of building a community before school even starts. Teachers can send students a letter of introduction over the summer that lets them know how excited they is to have them in class.

Classroom Rules: Instead of having the classroom rules posted on the first day when students arrive, teachers can work with students to create a shared list of classroom rules together.

Classroom Decorations: Teachers often work really hard to decorate the entire classroom before students arrive. Consider leaving some areas of the classroom undecorated so students can help personalize the classroom with their own decorations.

Classroom Responsibilities: Giving students classroom responsibilities can help them really understand how important they are to the community and show them that they have something important to offer the class.

Classroom Meetings: Weekly scheduled classroom meetings can help the teacher and students communicate with each other about important issues. This time can be used to talk about important class issues or to vote on upcoming activities.

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