With teaching lessons, prepping for standardized tests, and making sure students hit certain benchmarks, equally important things like building a strong classroom community can take a back seat. Still, a strong classroom community is integral to students’ success. So how can teachers build one with so little time in the day?
Below, we listed our favorite ways to build classroom community. The best part? They don’t take forever to do. In fact, we’re sure they’ll be a highlight of the school day.
1. Use note cards to share fun facts.
This activity works well with any age group, and it’s especially good for middle school and high school, where it can be challenging to build classroom community. Have students write down facts on note cards and then share throughout the year.
2. Make kindness chains.
The visual of this one is great. As you work on it throughout the week, month, or year, it grows and grows to show your students just how much progress they’re making. You can theme it around kindness, like Anna did in this idea, or come up with something else that works for your classroom.
Learn more: Building a Positive Classroom Community at All About 3rd Grade
3. Talk about filling buckets.
Use an anchor chart to talk to your students about how to fill someone’s bucket. Have everyone contribute their ideas!
Learn more: How To Fill a Bucket at Teach, Plan, Love
4. Work together toward a reward.
Students will have to learn to work together in order to get that final prize.
Learn more: Mystery Reward at Twitter
5. Play the gratitude game.
This game is adorable, and we give full credit to Karyn of the blog Teach Beside Me for it. She uses it with her own kids, but you can definitely adapt it to the classroom by using pipe cleaners, paper straws, or even different colors of pencils or toothpicks.
Learn more: Gratitude Game at Teach Beside Me
6. Get in a circle and share compliments.
For help on how to do this in your classroom, check out these tips from Paige Bessick.
Learn more: Compliment Circles at The Interactive Teacher
7. Pair students up to make a Venn diagram.
We’re all the same and all different. This is a lesson that should be embraced, and this is a perfect activity to bring this message home. You can pair up different students throughout the year so they really learn about each other in new ways.
Learn more: Venn Diagram at Teaching With Jillian Starr
8. Give a quick shout-out.
The classroom door is the perfect canvas. Just grab some Post-it notes to create this awesome community builder. The combo is a perfect way to build student camaraderie throughout the year.
Learn more: Shout-Outs at @headoverheelsforteaching
9. Give your students a voice.
Let your students know that it’s OK to have opinions and to speak out, even if they express themselves via note. You can learn more about these on Jillian Starr’s website. You could also create different notes and themes that work well in your classroom. For instance, how about a fill-in-the-blank sheet about what students want their principal or classmates to know about them?
Learn more: I Wish My Teacher Knew at Teaching With Jillian Starr
10. Set goals one week at a time.
It can be great to set a long-term goal with a big reward, but sometimes shorter, even weekly, options are even better. It helps students focus on a single task and keeps them motivated each week.
Learn more: Goal Tracker at The Animated Teacher
11. Keep a scoreboard.
This is one more idea from The Animated Teacher, and we love how visual it is. She keeps a simple scoreboard in her classroom to remind her students of goals and how they’re doing.
Learn more: Daily Goal Scoreboard at The Animated Teacher
12. Hold regular class meetings.
What is a class meeting exactly? It’s more than just morning calendar time or sharing about the star or person of the week. It’s a way to regularly check in with your class as a group. Here are some tips on how to hold one, courtesy of Once Upon a Learning Adventure.
Learn more: Class Meetings at Once Upon a Learning Adventure