The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Building Community in the Classroom

on June 28, 2019

Having students work and play together in the classroom and on the playground is good because it brings everyone together physically and socially. But conditions don’t always stay that way. Differences in abilities and interests or bad experiences for some students, can dissolve a community and damage everyone’s learning.

To me, a community is more than a bunch of people living in the same physical territory. It’s a group of comrades bound together by purpose, cooperation, and trust. Even a school can become a “community” when t students and teachers are devoted to a particular cause–such as building a new playground.

The key to creating a classroom community is a teacher who is respectful to all students; and the most obvious respectful teacher action is not listing students’ test scores for everyone else to see. That information should be shared only with the students who earned it and their parents.  But it is just as important for teachers to not criticize the work or behavior of any student publicly. All such messages should be delivered privately.

At the same time teachers should do their best to notice positive student actions, such as helping someone pick up a bunch of pencils dropped on the floor by someone else or joining a partner in moving a heavy desk. However, a teacher doesn’t have to draw public attention to every act of helpfulness. It’s enough to let those involved know she noticed and appreciated what they did.

Another positive thing a teacher can do is assign different students to work together on new assignments. It’s also a good idea to encourage them to choose new partners for ordinary work from time to time, rather than always working with the same people.

In a classroom where a true community exists, cooperation, production, and learning soar. Those things happen because each student is willing to work with others and support anyone who needs help. Also classroom leaders do not have to see all classmates as new friends. But they should come to believe that everyone deserves the same consideration the teacher gave them when they were new in the classroom, lonely and afraid.

One response to “Building Community in the Classroom

  1. Frankey Jones says:

    Good classroom descriptions. Teachers can make a difference!


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