Community building in the Classroom

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					Community building
 in the Classroom

 Reference: Vanston Shaw
 The Classroom as Community
 “ What you do speaks so loudly, they can’t hear
   what you say.”
• want to create a community of learners
• a cohesive classroom gives students a sense of
   support and improves their sense of self worth
• as teacher you are creator and curator of the
   classroom environment
• teach social skills to resolve issues of
• issue is resolved when students feel they
  are part of a team/class
• revolves around ideas of self-presentation,
  building trust, and building a sense of
  safety within the group
• occurs at a class and team level
• may begin with a getting acquainted
  activity e.g. line up; team handshake
• issue is resolved when all students feel
  that they have impact in the class/group
• evident when team members feel safe
  enough to assert their points of view
• when problems emerge, strategies for
  resolving the conflict may need to be
  taught e.g. valuing individual differences
• issue is resolved when students trust each
  other enough to share personal
• have to nurture this component and allow
  it to grow
• modeled by the teacher “sharing self”
• corresponds to the teaching of relationship
  skills e.g. active listening, affirmations
• is reached when the issues have all been
• community building is cyclical NOT linear
• may need to revisit various issues from
  time to time as they appear or disappear
• substantiated in William Glasser’s
  research when he refers to the “need to
• occurs throughout the year
• Spencer Kagan identifies five elements in
  class building:
     1. getting acquainted
     2. building a class identity
     3. experiencing mutual support
     4. valuing individual differences
     5. synergy
          Getting Acquainted
• activities that allow students to present
  themselves to the class in a safe manner
• may include:
        * alliterative names (Clever Carol)
        * sharing shields (with info on self)
        * pass the feather sharing ( favorite
          food) with affirmation
        * student search (people bingo)
         Building Class Identity
• establish the uniqueness of the class
• activities might include:
    * think-pair-share (class name)
    * create a class banner
    * animal corners ( identify animal with
      which you identify, write it down, go to the
      corner, and discuss the reasons for their
    * sailboat and rowboat ( choose a boat and
      interview students with similar and different choices)
             Mutual Support
• assist students in finding out more about
  themselves as well as developing a regard for
• activities might include:
    * electricity (pass energy around the
      circle by squeezing hand of person
      next to you)
    * pass-a –classmate
    * trust walk (pairs guide each other)
 Valuing individual Differences
• provide opportunities for student s to see
  each other from a different perspective
• activities might include:
     * animal corners
     * sailboat and rowboat
     * values line up (line progresses from
       agreed to disagreed on a topic
       e.g. rap music, year long school)
• synergy exists when two or more create
  something better than someone alone could do
• activities to develop synergy might be:
         * living class machine
         * class formations that involve
           everyone in the class
           e.g. shapes of continents
         * team handshake
               The Three R’s
• the new three R’s may become…
• important to teach relationship skills and build
  self-esteem (Lickona)

  “ I am a teacher; I touch the future”
                   Christa McAuliffe