Author: Dawn Mitchell
Over the years new teachers have often asked me how to best build a positive and productive classroom community. My answer is always straightforward and simple…one student at a time. Classroom community is not built with one really amazing first week of school collaborative activity, a couple of ice breakers, and a few personal writing prompts. Although each of these ideas is helpful in getting to know our students and fostering positive relationships,
it is important to remember that how we treat students individually, consistently and intentionally over time models for them how we want them to treat one other and sets the tone for our classroom each and every day.
I was recently visiting our induction teachers at Fairforest Elementary and noticed this bulletin board made by first grade teacher, Katy Bolduc, and assistant principal, Kim Helle in the teacher work room near the front of the school. It was inspired from a digital poster that educator Kristin Wiens created and shared on Twitter (Follow Ms. Wiens @kwiens62). It highlights four different ways to intentionally relate and connect to students. The first weeks of school can be a whirlwind of teaching, planning, assessing, and preparing. Many times we may not remember to be intentional about our communication with our students. I want to encourage you to take a moment to read each of the suggestions for communicating with our students in Wiens’ poster below: Lighting Up, Building Up, and Never Giving Up. Choose one or two from each category to implement this week with your students.
If you are interested in learning more strategies for building a positive classroom community, I would like to recommend the short but relevant article, Seven Strategies for Building Positive Classrooms by Carol Gerber Allred, published in ASCD’s Ed Leadership. Click the link to view.
Dawn J. Mitchell,