A positive classroom community can make your job as a teacher easier. It will help your students enter the room each day engaged and calm. Building a strong classroom community is done through everyday actions and activities. While it happens over time, it is something you can be purposeful about. Let's explore seven ways to build classroom community.
1. Group Rewards
Instead of individual rewards for students, create a group reward based on how the group acts. Choose a mystery prize (i.e., extra recess, popcorn party). Individual students or the whole class can earn points toward the mystery prize. For example, the class could earn 5 points if everyone brings in their homework or they could earn a point for each person who brings it in. They could get a point for getting a compliment from another teacher about their hallway behavior.
You can make this more engaging by having a visual. Some people write the mystery prize on the board and cover it with post-its. They remove a post-it each time, slowly revealing the mystery prize throughout the week.
2. Conversation Starters
Conversation starters are a great way to build community. Students can learn about you and other students, and share about themselves. Using engaging prompts will get students to open up and feel comfortable telling others about themselves. They will also find unexpected things in common with others.
3. Community Service
Get your students involved in helping others as a group. You can have them volunteer outside of the school doing things like park clean-up or planting flowers. They can also help around the school like organizing recess equipment, helping kindergarten during pack-up, or running a school function.
Take this to another level by having students plan the project together.
4. What They Say Behind Your Back
Everyone likes a compliment and hearing the nice things someone else is thinking about them. Try a simple compliment activity. Students can put a piece of paper on their desk with their name on it. Students circulate around the room writing a compliment on 5 people's paper.
You could also create a Shout Out wall in your classroom. When students see another student working hard, being kind, or showing another positive trait, they can write that person a compliment and put it on the Shout Out wall. You can read them at the end of the week or day.
5. Closing Circles
Try having a closing circle during the last ten minutes of the day. It can serve as a complement to morning meeting. Use it to share news, discuss any important events, or preview the next day. It is also an opportunity for students to share. This appreciation, apology, or aha activity is a great one to incorporate.
6. A Little Bit of Kindness
Doing kinds acts for others is a great way to build community. Explore with students how they can show kindness to others through simple daily acts.
Try a Kind Acts Jar or Helping Hands Cards.
7. Lunch Bunch Chats
Taking students for an informal lunch bunch is a great way to build relationships with a small group of students. This also provides students with an opportunity to get to know each other.
You can use the conversation starter cards mentioned above or keep it more casual.
Building Community in Your Classroom
You can build community in your classroom through simple everyday activities. Community comes when students develop trust with others, share their voice, and know they are valued.