As all teachers know, building and maintaining that sense of classroom community is a year-long process. Keep your class going strong and on the right path with the ideas and tips below. They will help you continue to build the strong foundation that is needed for a truly supportive classroom environment.
Cultivating the Classroom Community
Make Manners Matter
Recognizing of manners is important no matter what grade you teach. From kindergarteners to high schoolers, good manners can mean the difference between a positive classroom environment and a negative one. Hand out stickers to showcase students’ good behavior during the day. They provide the perfect platform for talking about kindness, good behavior, and community spirit every day. Include them in your end of the day routine for consistency. Not only will students look forward to getting the stickers, but their parents will look forward to seeing them at the end of the day.
Lenae, a Gifted Kindergarten Teacher, from Boca Raton, FL, makes sure that the focus is always on kindness in her class. “I focus on and reinforce positive behavior with my Kindness program. I use a 100 board and place one sticker on successive numbers as I observe a child engaging in kind behavior. I place a kindness note on the child so parents can recognize their child’s exemplary behavior. Children love to be caught being kind. As an extra incentive, if the class fills the chart to 100 before we reach the 100th day of school I reward them with a Kindness Party. This is a wonderful way to extinguish the negative and reinforce positive behavior.”
Put Kind Words In Their Mouths
Help develop character and kindness by helping students understand the importance of their words. This idea comes from Christy, a 2nd Grade Teacher, from Buford, GA. “As part of our focus on character development, our class discusses the importance of using kind words. I then have each student use a pattern to create a mouth with an opening at the lips (envelope style). I offer each student a small strip of adding machine paper. Each student uses one side of the paper to list words of encouragement, and the other side of the paper to record unkind words. After talking about how important it is to use our words for kindness, we stored the word strips in the students’ paper mouths. Each time a student used a kind word, that student got to put a sticker on the kind word side of his or her word strip. By unit’s end, students were offering each other daily reminders to use words of kindness while discouraging the use of unkind words.”