Fundamental Four- #3 Building Classroom Community


Welcome back to our Fundamental Four series!
Today, Courtney from Create Inspire Teach and I will be talking all about Building Classroom Community.

What is a Classroom Community?

 Cultivating relationships with our students is ESSENTIAL. Students should feel valued and connected to not only the teacher, but other students as well. A classroom community consists of positive relationships, collaboration and discussions, responsibilities, and overall acceptance. When students feel like they belong, they are more than likely to become instantly engaged and active participants of their learning. Think about it this way, do you feel more inclined to go to work if you have a boss that constantly encourages you, lifts you up with positive words, and is always there to help? Yup.
 Now, a classroom community is something that's created and nurtured throughout the school year. It definitely does not happen over night. But when it does, it's truly magical. 

Set Classroom Expectations

Instead of setting classroom rules, I set classroom expectations. Last year I only had THREE expectations.
1) Show respect to everyone.
2) Make smart choices.
3) Solve your problems.
These three expectations pretty much encompassed every rule I could think of. Students understood the importance of following these rules in order to maintain a successful classroom environment. We focused on discussing and breaking down the expectations by thinking about what specific behaviors would fall under each one. While brainstorming expectations together, we created an anchor chart filled with expected behaviors. The students all signed the chart and it was displayed in the classroom all year.
I don't have a picture of the chart, but some of the behaviors included:
-Listen to others before speaking
-Ask for help when needed
-Use kind words
- Try to solve a problem with words before bringing it up to the teacher's attention.
 (We discussed what kinds of problems would fall under this category. We reinacted out minor problems such as "He doesn't let me go first!" "She skipped me in line!", "I don't have a pencil!" and what would be some of the possible solutions.)

Create Class Goals

Another great way to get everyone to collaborate is to work together to set class goals. I like meeting with the class at least once a month to discuss our progress as a whole. Have we been slacking on completing our iReady minutes? Have we been checking out books from the library? How are our assessment scores doing? We reflect on different areas as a whole and set quarterly goals. Here are some examples of the goals we've set:

By the end of the quarter, our class will:
-Read 60 books
-Complete the required 45 minutes of iReady every single week
-Complete our homework 4 out of 5 days a week
-Complete one act of kindness a day

I've been guilty of having a "Data Wall" just because our administration requires it. I fill in the data, but the kiddos have no idea what any of it stands for. Last year I made sure to explain the process to them and we worked together to set the goals. This year I created these large Data Tracking and Goal Setting posters that will be displayed on our wall. 

Host Classroom Discussions

Finding the time to do anything outside of 'instruction' during the school day can be extremely hard.  You have two math lessons to catch up on, an assessment to debrief, and guided reading groups scheduled for the day. How in the world are you going to fit a classroom discussion in there? We've all been there.
I display a prompt on the board twice a week. I saw this idea floating around Instagram for a while and knew I had to start implementing it in my class. When students walk in, they have a post it already on their desk. They read the prompt on the board and walk up to the board to place their post-it next to it. Once all students have completed morning work and we are ready to get started for the day, we spend about 3-5 minutes discussing the prompt as a whole. This is a great time to bond as a class. We share stories, laugh, and BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. 

Morning Meeting Starters

Grab these FREE discussion prompts below!
Free Classroom Discussion Starters

I hope you grabbed some new ideas to help build student relationships! 



PS: I'm giving away TWO Goal Setting & Data Tracking Poster set! Check out my 'Building Classroom Community' Instagram Post to enter! (@SweetToothTeaching)

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