Welcome back to part 2 of our 4 part Back to School Series! In this post we will give you ideas for building classroom community! This series will be all about how to get your school year started on the right foot. We will be discussing getting to know your students, building a strong classroom community, how to get students working together, and giving ideas for classroom management.
The Importance of Building Classroom Community
As the summer sun begins to take its final bows and the scent of fresh pencils fills the air, we, as teachers, know that it’s time for another exciting year of learning, growth, and discovery. With the new school year comes a new group of bright-eyed students, each unique, each bringing a piece of themselves into our classroom. It’s like a puzzle, isn’t it? Each piece distinct, yet vital to the complete picture. Now the question is, how do we make these pieces fit together to create a harmonious and dynamic learning environment? The answer lies in building a strong classroom community.
Creating a classroom community at the beginning of the year is like building the foundation of a house. It’s important because it sets the overall mood, helps students interact with each other, and makes them feel like they belong. A strong classroom community can turn a group of individual students into a close-knit team, where they work together and develop their social and emotional skills. So, how can we build this community? What activities can we do to make students feel connected and treat each other with respect? Here are a few ideas to try with your class!
1. Building a Classroom Community Puzzle Together
What better way to show your students how individually they are unique, but collectively, they create a work of art?! Pass out a blank puzzle piece to each student and allow them to decorate it with favorite activities, foods or anything that makes them special. Work together as a class to put the puzzle back together. Your students will see how even though they’re each different in their own special way, they fit together beautifully.
2. Create a Classroom Community Time Capsule
Have students create a time capsule at the beginning of the year. They can include a letter to their future selves, a list of their current favorites (book, movie, food, etc.), and a goal they have for the year. Seal the time capsules and store them away until the end of the year. When students open them, they’ll be able to see how much they’ve grown and changed, fostering a sense of shared history and experience. The example shown above from Rockin Resources uses a Pringles can as a time capsule.
3. Building Bridges: Classroom Community Activities
Help students get to know each other and build a caring classroom community with these fun and engaging activities. Students will connect over similarities that they share, as well as learn about differences. They will also be encouraged to share, empathize, and work with others to problem solve!
4. Building Community Classroom Meetings
Providing a platform where students can express their thoughts, concerns, and ideas is another effective way to build a classroom community. These meetings can be used to discuss various topics, resolve conflicts, or simply share the highs and lows of the week.
Encourage open and respectful communication during these meetings and reiterate the importance of listening to others. Building a classroom community encourages empathy and understanding among students, making the classroom a happier place to learn.
Class meetings let students celebrate achievements and appreciate each other, making them feel like they belong and strengthening their bond.
5. Building Community with a Breakout Game
Breakout games can be an engaging and interactive way to build classroom community. Here’s how they can contribute to community building:
- Collaboration: Breakout games typically require students to work together in teams to solve puzzles, find clues, and unlock the final solution. This collaborative nature promotes teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Students learn to rely on each other’s strengths, share ideas, and work towards a common goal.
- Communication and Listening: Breakout games encourage students to communicate effectively with each other. They must actively listen to their teammates’ ideas and perspectives, as well as express their own thoughts and strategies. Through this process, students develop better communication skills, learn to value each other’s contributions, and build trust and respect within the group.
- Problem-Solving: Breakout games present students with challenging problems that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students must think creatively, analyze information, and make connections to find solutions. Collaborating on these puzzles allows students to learn from each other’s approaches, share their problem-solving strategies, and appreciate the diverse perspectives and strengths within the group.
- Positive Competition: Breakout games often incorporate an element of competition, such as racing against the clock or competing against other teams. This healthy competition can energize students, motivate them to work together efficiently, and encourage friendly interactions. It also provides an opportunity for students to learn how to win and lose gracefully, promoting good sportsmanship.
- Fun and Engagement: Breakout games create an exciting and enjoyable learning environment. Students are more likely to actively participate and engage with the material when they are having fun. By incorporating these games into the classroom, you can foster a positive and enthusiastic atmosphere, where students feel excited about learning and collaborating with their peers.
You can also use debriefing sessions after the game to encourage reflection and discussion, allowing students to share their experiences, celebrate successes, and learn from any challenges they encountered.
If you’d like to try one of our breakout games for free, check out this blog post to learn more!
Building a classroom community takes time, patience, and dedication, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Remember, the goal is to create a nurturing environment where every student feels valued, safe, and motivated to learn. By incorporating these activities into your classroom, you’ll be setting the stage for a successful and enjoyable school year. Here’s to a year filled with learning, growth, and lots of fun!