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Building Classroom Community: Essential Guide for K-5 Teachers

Let’s be real; when you’re a teacher, you LIVE in your classroom. Don’t you want it to be a thriving, vibrant community where inclusivity is the norm? Of course you do! We all want to promote empathy, teamwork, and a love of learning. However, this can seem like an impossible task unless you keep reading! This article will tell you give you a roadmap to create a classroom community you and your students will be proud to be a part of! With these tips, your students will feel valued, understood, and excited to learn! 

What is a Classroom Community? 

Most people think education is just about teaching students how to read, write, and do math. However, a big part of teaching is creating and nurturing a classroom community that all students have ownership in. Why is it often overlooked? Well, many people don’t know what it means to build a classroom community. So, what is it? A classroom community means the teacher has created an environment that empowers students because they feel connected, valued, and engaged in their learning. Teachers do this by creating a supportive space that focuses on academic growth as well as social and emotional development. 

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What Does a Strong Classroom Community Look Like? 

A great classroom community sounds great, but what does it look like? A classroom community is a learning environment where all students feel seen and valued. In this space, students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas without fear of rejection or ridicule. In a great classroom community, cooperation and learning from each other is a normal part of the education process. This all leads to a strong classroom community where everyone learns and individual differences are celebrated. 

Integrating Community into the Classroom 

How do you bring community into your classroom? It’s not something you only do once; it’s an ongoing process that needs patience, persistence, and a dedicated effort from the teacher. This patience, persistence, and dedication all pay off when your students are learning more from and with each other because they feel they are in a safe place. 

Five Pillars of Classroom Community 

This sounds great right? Building a classroom community has huge rewards, but there is some work involved. Here are the five fundamental strategies you need in order to make this a reality in your classroom. 

Set Clear Expectations 

No matter what, you’ll need to have clear values and expectations that every student understands. These expectations of your classroom community, like respecting one another, are important to follow. Throughout the year, you need to reinforce these values regularly. You can do this with simple classroom management games

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Cultivate a Collaborative Environment 

In order to create this strong classroom community, everyone has to be on board. Incorporating group activities that help build collaboration is an essential part of this. Have your students work on teamwork and collective problem-solving as part of the school day. These activities can help guide students to appreciate one another’s strengths. Plus, they’ll leave to resolve conflict in a healthy way. 

Promote Open Communication 

So many students are afraid to say something because they are afraid of being wrong and laughed at. Creating a classroom community means encouraging students to share thoughts, ideas, and feelings when it’s appropriate to do so. Give students a place where their voices are heard and valued. This not only builds a sense of belonging, but it helps foster skills like empathy for others and active listening which will carry on forever. 

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Involve Parents 

Parents are an important part of having a strong classroom community because they help reinforce the ideas at home. Communicating with parents helps keep them in the know in terms of their child’s progress, invites their input, and creates a sense of shared responsibility. Having parents volunteer and help within the classroom while you are working on community building at the beginning of the year can be very helpful.

Celebrate Diversity 

We live in a world where everyone is different, and we need to help teach children that being different is not a bad thing. Your classroom is a melting pot of different backgrounds, cultures, abilities, and perspectives. In your strong classroom community, everyone needs to be accepting and respectful of all the different types of people in the classroom. To go a step further, you can celebrate your differences with various culture days or by having parents come in and share a part of their traditions. Doing all of this will enrich the learning experience for students. 

How Do I Know I Did It?

You follow all the steps and do everything you can to create a positive environment. How do you know you did it? There are several ways a positive classroom community can be seen. First, pay attention to how your students interact inside the classroom. Is everyone engaged? Asking questions? Exploring ideas? Asking for help? This all means they feel safe. Are students working together and solving their own problems while being respectful of their peers? They are collaborating and building a team. If the answer to this is yes, then you did it! At this point, you can’t just walk away. Teachers must continue to foster learning and the sense of community so it doesn’t fizzle. 

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What Does a Supportive Classroom Look Like? 

When you have a supportive classroom, your students will be overall joyful and confident! These two qualities speak volumes about your classroom environment. When students feel confident to say what they are feeling or thinking, they feel secure, valued and motivated to learn. In these classroom communities, learning isn’t a chore or something boring. Instead, it’s an exciting adventure that all students get to go on together. 

Teachers are building more than classrooms when school starts. They are building classroom communities that teach students all about reading, writing, and math but also about human relationships. Educators are really in the business of human development after all. The skills students learn in a classroom community last long after students leave the classroom for the last time. 

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