We all know about building a classroom community, having a positive classroom culture, or building relationships with and between students. I'm sure you have also tried many different ways of making this happen in your classroom each year. I know I have. And often times, I felt they were successful in helping students to get to know one another, or see how to relate to one another.
However, the more I learn about helping students (and adults) be ready to learn, the more I wonder if I did a great job of that as a teacher myself. So I've been thinking...
I don't know about you, but there are many things I seek from someone from which I am learning. Things like credibility, likeability, and good communication skills. But I'm pretty sure that two qualities are at the top of my list, especially when it comes to a long-term learning relationship. Trustworthiness and Caring.
One thing I have realized about these two qualities, is that not all people see them in others in the same amount of time, or even through the same experiences. It takes many different conversations and events in order for some people to gain a person's trust or have them feel as though they genuinely care about them.
When you consider this in the realm of the classroom, you realize that it isn't as easy as it may seem to build the relationships and culture for which you are striving. You must say and show EVERY day that you care about your students, and that they can trust you. Some of the following may be helpful to consider as you think of how you build relationships with your students.
Compliment them and praise them
Notice things about them- new hair, new shoes, hard work
Ask questions about them and their family
Do what you say you will do
Handle situations fairly
Encourage them when they have trouble
Not only are the relationships we have with our students important, but they must also have that trust with one another. We must help to create and expect a culture of safety and caring so that every student is able to learn and share and work together. Perhaps a few of the following could help to make this happen!
Have students share things about themselves and their identity
Create classroom "norms" or agreements together
Be sure to "enforce" these norms and speak to those not following them
Model and coach group conversations
Model caring and respectful behavior
Celebrate mistakes and successes
Reward the entire class for one student's behavior or success
It seems as though this is not an easy task, but most important things are not! One way to measure success is to utilize a student survey (quick Google Form could do it!) and ask questions about how they feel in the classroom. This will help guide you as the year goes on, so you know if you have any more work to do!
Here's to a year of Peace and Happiness~