Classroom Community Definition
A classroom community is an environment in which students feel supported and valued as individuals. It provides a unique environment for children to experience a sense of belonging and promote positive social skills and academic achievement.
Why is Classroom Community Important?
There are endless reasons why creating a community in your classroom is vital. Some of these reasons include improved student behavior, increased empathy, and compassion in students, and healthy conflict resolution skills. In addition, students are more likely to take academic risks because they feel supported and safe and studies have shown an increase in student motivation.
Activities to Build Classroom Community
So you may be wondering how to build classroom community, below are a few of my favorite activities.
To begin, using a memory jar is one of my favorite activities for building classroom community. Throughout the year, when something funny or awesome happens, have a student jot it down on a sticky note. Then at the end of the year, go through the jar and recount some of the awesome memories you’ve made together. My students love recording memories. Sometimes, we’ll open the jar early and pull out a memory or two for laughs.
If you have time, morning meetings are an incredible way to establish a classroom community. During this time, students have created classroom rules, talked about important topics, reflected on our goals, and really gotten to know one another. If you’re interested in reading more about morning meetings you can check out this blog post.
Secret smiles is fairly new to my list of strategies to build classroom community. However, it’s been successful every time I’ve used it.
Throughout the school year, I’ll pick a few days for students to draft their “secret smiles.” During this time, students will write a kind and uplifting note for one of their classmates. Sometimes I choose the person they write to and other times I let them pick. Then I’ll randomly deliver the message to that person.
For example, after a tough afternoon, I may leave the postcard on a student’s desk for them to see when they arrive in the morning.
In addition, a graffiti wall is similar to secret smiles; however, all students compliment all their classmates. On a random morning, I may place “graffiti walls” on top of students’ desks or around the room. Then everyone will go around and write something nice or an adjective to describe that person. When your students have completed the activity (and everyone has made it to each student), your kids can go back to their seats and see what their classmates have written. Now, their walls are filled with positivity and love!
Books for Building Classroom Community
Below is a list of my favorite books for classroom community. You may click on each book to take you directly to Amazon. Please note, these are affiliate links; however, they don’t affect the price of the book at all.
- Sandwich Swap
- All Are Welcome
- Invisible Boy
- Kindness Snippet Jar
- Same, Same but Different
- The Best that I Can be – Respect
Classroom Community Bulletin Board Ideas
Goal-Setting Bulletin Board
Additionally, a huge part of building a community is setting goals together and supporting each other through the process of accomplishing them. One way I do this is with a goal-setting bulletin board. Then you can have students pick a buddy or you may assign a buddy to help hold them accountable.
Student of the Week Bulletin Board (or Student of the Month)
If possible, have your students vote on a student of the week (or month) and explain why. This allows your kids to feel as though they are apart of your community and have a voice in the events that occur within the classroom.
Once I select a student, I allow their classmates to take time to write adjectives describing that person and celebrate their accomplishments!
Class Compliments Bulletin Board
On this bulletin board, students take a sticky note or a piece of paper and shoutout one of their peers. Then I ask my students to stick it on the bulletin board to be shown off and shared.
Our Family Bulletin Board
Finally, I try to include pictures of my students as much as possible. One year, I had a wall of pictures of my student’s families (which is great for connecting school and home). Another year, I added pictures throughout the year displaying all the fun things we’ve done. Then at the end of the year, students can take home their pictures and remember the memories we’ve built together.
Other Community Building Ideas
- Classroom Community Contract – As a class, create a contract with rules and expectations. Allow them to feel like part of the process. Once the activity is finished, your students can sign it or put their thumbprint.
- Games – Buy some board games or create a Donors Choose! Games are a great way for students to bond over something other than schoolwork.
- I Wish My Teacher Knew – You can read more about this activity here.
Ultimately, a classroom community is fostered by creating an atmosphere of respect and love. All students thrive in an environment where their needs are met and they feel safe. Bond with your kids, have fun, and always lift them up! Your students will love, appreciate, and remember you for making such a positive impact on their lives.
As for you, make sure your cup is full too! If you’re interested in reading more about how I keep myself upbeat and thriving in the classroom – check out this article on teacher self-care!