There are so many things you can do to help facilitate a sense of community in your classroom so I am going to give you a specific task to take back with you and try in your classroom tomorrow.
Not in a week or two but tomorrow or as soon as you get back to school. Remember, a sense of community is one of the most important things you can do to create a happy, healthy classroom experience for you and your students.
From Feeling Disconnected
Every time I present at a conference, the one thing I notice first is that a sense of community is often not present in the room. Even though we are all teachers who have come together to learn, there is still a disconnect. We are all strangers and we feel like strangers. I can feel it and I can see it by looking at body language. It isn’t always possible to overcome that disconnect in such a brief time together but I definitely want to try my best.
To Feeling Connected
When the group is smaller, I often will invite everyone to come and sit closer to me. Sometimes we will all sit in a circle on the floor. Sometimes we gather around one or two tables. In either case, I can see and feel the sense of community start to come to life. As we begin to feel like a community, the whole experience changes from me talking to a group who may or may not listen to what I have to say to a group who gets involved and begins to care about what I have to say.
Huddle Up with Children
I invited a parent to come and read to my students in the class. The children were all sitting around the edges of the carpet ready for her to read. As she sat down on the floor, the first thing she said to the children is “huddle up!” The children naturally scooted in closer and she began to read. I witnessed the same thing that I see in my workshops.
The children immediately felt accepted by the parent and wanted to be a part of her leadership and her reading experience.
There are things to note: The parent was genuine in her invitation to huddle up. She didn’t get bogged down with rules for sitting and listening. Instead she tied the invitation to huddle up with her genuine joy for reading a story and the children understood and positively responded.
This leads me to your first teaching task: “Huddle up!”
Your Teaching Task #1: Ask your students to huddle up
When you go back to your classroom tomorrow, look for an opportunity to invite your students to huddle up. You don’t have to use those words and it doesn’t have to be during story time. Look for the time that you sense is a good opportunity.
This little exercise is to get you thinking about the power of getting physically close as a community. Just the physical proximity between you and your students can help to foster a sense of community but remember, your invitation must be genuine and not forced.
I would love for you to come back here and share your huddle up stories with us no matter how it turns out. What did you do? What did you learn? How did the children respond? How did your experience stand when it comes to the idea of facilitating a sense of community?
Things to Consider
- A sense of community is one of the most important things you can do to create a happy, healthy classroom experience for you and your students.
- Drawing the children closer to you during a story or activity builds a sense of warmth and community