Building Classroom Community: 3 Essentials
I love to play! But honestly, I don't very much. I'm a driven midwesterner and convinced my genes still think I"m a farmer. I also started my career as a middle school teacher and was told not to smile until January. So, play at the beginning of the school year was not something I did well or came easily, but I firmly believe it is the best way to build community. Check out the book Juegos Tradicionales for great ideas to "play" with your class.
Play can help us build community, but the ultimate goal is to build trust. WHY? Learning is all about taking small risks and in order for our students to take risks they must trust. So, how do I build trust? I get to know my students and share with them about my life. I've shared my "biography" a book I made on a powerpoint so they could see pictures of my family, I've read them my favorite books, and I always sent a letter home to my families introducing myself. That is just the beginning. It takes time to grow.
Students love to test boundaries in all sorts of ways, one of the best ways to not even engage in the struggle is to have strong classroom management. I learned this the hard way during my first year teaching and fortunately took a class specifically on classroom management to improve my systems, clarify my expectations, and be transparent and explicit with consequences. I was not an overnight success but after a few years the classroom systems lessened my workload and increased my community. Students felt a part of the classroom and our community. Their investment meant a happier learning environment.
How do you build trust in your classroom? What do you think are key ingredients?