Tip # 3 Continue to Build Community

Fostering Relationships in the Classroom

Continue to Show You Care Through Activities

It is critical that all students, especially English-language learners (ELL) and Exceptional Children (EC), develop trusting and enriching relationships with each other and with their teachers. There are many activities which can be used throughout the year to build and maintain positive relationships in the classroom. Below are a few suggestions from your colleagues.

Sharing Weekly Reflections

Each week, ask your students to write about two positive events that occurred in their lives and one not-so-positive event (along with what they could have done to make it better or what they learned from it). Students then share what they wrote in pairs, triads, or small groups. This experience will help build social capital.

Four Squares Activity

The four squares activity helps students get to know each other better, while giving students the opportunity to practice both writing and speaking. The teacher models how to fold a piece of paper into four boxes and numbers them 1-4. Students then write a different topic/category next to the number at the top of each box. The categories could include: family, what I like about school/this class, what I don't like about class/school, my favorite game/movie/sport, etc. Ask the students to share Box One with a partner, then Box Two with a different partner, and so on. Think about ways that you could modify this activity to align it with your curriculum to make it better!

Introducing Me/3 Objects

Students choose a few objects which reveal something about themselves or are special in some way and share them with the class. The teacher models this first by bringing in items special in his/her life ( a photo, piece of sports equipment, paintbrush, musical instrument, etc.), and shares why the object is important to him/her. Then, the teacher can take a few minutes to answer any questions. Students can share their items in various ways---a few students can share each day, or students can share in small groups or with a partner, taking turns to ask each other questions. Remind students that valuable items should be left at home and pictures of the item used.

"Find Someone in the Class Who..." Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is an easy way to get students out of their seats, talking, and interacting within minutes! You can create the scavenger hunt in a few minutes. (There are many variations on the web.) Students circulate to find someone who has experienced each category. The students must ask their classmate's name and write it on the line next to each category. Think about the way that you would like students to share out. Could they use the data to create a class graph?

Final Suggestion: Take Care of Yourself

Get Out and Have Fun---Take time for yourself; make dates with friends and family. Learn from the beginning of your career to have balance.

Capture It With a Camera---Get out your cell phone, digital camera or iPad and photographically chart your career. Slow down, snap a pic, and enjoy the journey of making a positive difference in the lives of students.

Journal About the Journey---Once a day or week, reflect on what has happened. You may even consider doing a blog. Take the time to celebrate the small victories and your professional growth.