Making students feel included and building community requires an unwavering commitment throughout the year. This blog post includes activities that promote a sense of belonging, and an emphasis on community building. The following are strategies and activities you can use to set the tone of respect and inclusion in your classroom this year.
A positive classroom climate is essential for any learning environment. Students need to feel safe, connected, and respected in order to succeed academically and socially. Teacher to student and student to student relationships are essential. Predictable routines, clear expectations, student engagement, and high interest lessons are also fundamental to an effective learning space. What, however, is a teacher to do when a students’ behavior interferes with teaching and learning?
Teachers I meet say that classroom management is one of their greatest concerns. So, what is an effective way to manage conflict between students in a classroom? I found that teaching students simple, consistent strategies - like the moves you would use in a game of chess - works best. It is a nonthreatening way to consider conflict, and it made our classroom discussions much more meaningful.
When I was 10, my dad asked me if I wanted to learn how to play chess. I asked, “Is it as easy as playing checkers?” “No,” he said. “No thank you”, I replied. Many years later, I realized that I made a terrible mistake. A friend of mine had taught me how to play, and I immediately saw the beauty and strategic thinking embedded in the game.
The narrow, yet very important focus of increasing student achievement must be expanded to include the conditions that affect the way in which classrooms operate. Critical to the success of schooling in urban settings is the emphasis on increasing the retention of teachers and reducing the numbers of student referrals and suspensions—two factors that plague the success of students in urban schools.