Few things can establish a sense of community in a classroom as quickly as shared experiences and shared tasks. Students who learn to see themselves as a united group working and playing together learn to be supportive of each other’s efforts and tolerant of each other’s idiosyncrasies. This is especially important for difficult students who can easily be isolated because of their disruptive behavior and attitudes. In the list below you will find several ways that you can encourage your students to be part of a supportive classroom.
Taking frequent photos will encourage students to see how they have progressed and grown throughout the school year. Display photographs of students doing various classroom tasks such as maintaining the classroom library or managing a classroom recycling center as well as participating in field trips and other class events.
Keep a scrapbook of major events and experiences throughout the year. The scrapbook does not have to be elaborate to be effective. Even photos clipped into a three-ring binder will show your students that they are important to you and to each other.
Use bulletin board space to show collages of the interests students have in common, their contributions to the class, and personal quotations or mottoes that are important to them.
Set goals as a class and work together to reach them:
The entire class earns a certain grade on an assessment
The class goes a certain number of days without tardies
The class earns a specified class average on a test
The class settles to work within a specified time limit
The class strives for perfect homework completion
Adopt a class mascot, secret sign, or catchphrase.
Celebrate class “in jokes,” traditions, or rituals such as group cheers when something good happens or pinning stars on the bulletin board to commemorate success.
You can also observe milestones such as the twentieth homework assignment or the tenth day with no tardies or the Hundredth Day. An excellent resource for Hundredth Day celebrations can be found at Enchanted Learning (http://www.enchantedlearning.com). Use “Hundredth Day” as a search term to access resources and lesson ideas to celebrate this occasion.