Here in the U.S., I know many schools in the South are having or have just had their first day back to school. Others here in the Northeast have a few more weeks to go.
That being said, I thought now would be a great moment to share out a few tips to help you set up your class community.
One of my best class community tips is to avoid hanging the classroom rules up before the children have entered the classroom. I prefer to chat with them as a class about each rule, and have them draw pictures about why these rules are important.
So, here are some of my top tips for creating class community; they’re techniques that I have used throughout my teaching career, with a few tweaks and suggestions here and there!
1. Master your Classroom Decor
It is important to make your room look inviting—so inviting that your students want to come bounding through those doors!
It does not have to look like a Pinterest Promotion, nor should you have everything set up and ready to go, but you should aim to have enough set up to get started and to make your room look “kid friendly” and comfortable.
2. Get the Kids Involved
Allow your students to take ownership of the classroom and make it feel like it belongs to them! Save some activities for your students to create!
Kids love being creative, and allowing them to take part in the decoration process will help them feel proud of their work. It’ll give them a sense of responsibility for keeping their class environment safe and friendly.
Some suggestions for involving the kids in the process might be:
- Create a Birthday Bulletin board. Have the children decorate and make the icons for your board. Maybe even plan a lesson around it and allow them to feel proud about the creation.
- Have the students create a mini ‘About Me’ poster on the Beneylu School app in the Workshop. Stick the posters to the wall in your class. This will allow them to introduce themselves and have fun in the process!
- Create a Classroom Rules poster in the Beneylu Workshop App. Have the students sign their name on it when it’s printed and on the wall, to make them feel important and a part of the classroom community.
- Take pictures of each child in a theme-based hat like the one below, or something related to the theme of your classroom. Then they can decide with you where to place these cute little faces.
- Have your students write or dictate their “Hopes and Dreams” for the school year! These also make a great bulletin board—not to mention how much the parents love seeing these on Back to School Night!
- I send home a letter where the parents write their academic and social Hopes and Dreams and display it with their child’s. If a parent cannot do this, I write my Hopes and Dreams for them!
This is a photo from a Fifties theme we used: “Rock into Learning!” Why not let your kids decide the theme to make it even more fun?!
3. Get Parents on Your Side
Getting parents on your side is crucial to your ability to understand and help a child.
I often tell parents that they are the most important person in their child’s life, and I say that in all sincerity. They know their children better than anyone and they were their first teacher.
I also say, “We need to work together as a team to ensure your child’s success. Your child needs you and me to make progress and be their best self!”
So just how do you show parents that you care about their child and you want them to succeed in school and life?
Here are a few ways that I have tried to show parents that I care!
- Host a Meet and Greet. This is a great way to ease parents and children into the new school year. They can meet you, take a peek at the classroom and it will cure “The First Day Jitters!”
- Call or email them to break the ice. The night before school starts or if that is not possible, a few days before the start of school, call each child on the telephone.
With this last point, just simply say, “Hi, I am Mrs. Simpson and I am Jimmy’s first grade teacher this year. I am so excited that he is in my class. I can’t wait to meet him on the first day of school. Don’t forget to bring your smile!”
Now granted…that is the message you might leave on the voice mail, but you get the idea. Sometimes you find out a little about mom, dad, Jimmy and siblings…but…that is OK!
You won’t believe how excited your students will be knowing you called and I have to admit…sometimes parents have also put their child on the phone and that makes it even better!
4. Use Tools to Make the Process Exciting
It’s important to consider not just what you do to create class community, but how you do it, and Beneylu School takes creating class community, involving the kids in it, and engaging with parents to whole a new level.
Beneylu School is the digital classroom for elementary students, kitted out with all the best apps.
It is a great way to stay connected with parents, for instance through the Mail and Parent-Teacher Liaison Book apps.
We are just in the beginning stages of implementing the platform in our school and have found that it has so much potential in allowing your students to take the reins of learning.
With Beneylu School, your students can take turns sharing ideas and writing class newsletters in the Workshop App as a way to connect home and school.
As a teacher you can share classroom photos from special days or a class trip on the Blog or in the Media Centre. You can also send out an e-mail for volunteers for an upcoming special activity. Everything is covered!
So, to conclude, I hope these have proven some useful ideas when it comes to creating classroom community at the beginning of this new year.
With a little creativity and the input of your students and their parents, you can set off on the best path possible for a rewarding and productive year ahead!