I bet all educators of the world will agree with me when I say that, our students deserve equal access to high-quality education. Hence, we should ponder the question: “How can you make everyone in your classroom feel like they belong?” Fostering a sense of belonging in our classroom should be a part of our classroom management strategies.
Creating a classroom environment where every student feels a strong sense of belonging is essential for their academic and emotional growth. When students feel included, respected, and valued, they are more likely to engage actively in their learning and develop positive relationships with peers and teachers.
As an educator, you have the power to shape this welcoming atmosphere.
Highlighted with the notion that each of our students should be an accepted member of the group, a sense of belonging should be offered to them. Fitting is what our students need so they can perform at their best. Moreover, the classroom should be one of the nicest places they’re in.
“When a boy feels as if no one cares about him, or as if he will never amount to anything, he truly believes it doesn’t matter what he does.” ―
Every member of the classroom matters. This is my thought and I live with it. Giving my students equal opportunities to learn is my way of helping them achieve their learning goals. And will it be easy? We just need the most appropriate teaching strategies to meet our students’ diverse learning needs to help them get there!
Our students may have differences and some may display disruptive behavior and unmotivated schemes, but they do deserve our love and they are worthy of belonging. Accepting them without question will boost their self-belief and somehow positively affects their perspectives.
Our students need to belong.
A feeling of isolation in the classroom underpins everything. We should not allow that to happen. As concerned teachers, we can celebrate our students’ uniqueness in many ways, one of which is to give them a sense of belonging.
<<Make your students feel they belong by making your classroom emotionally safe. That sounds just right! Read our lovely tips below.
What is a sense of belonging?
A sense of belonging is an assurance that one is an accepted member of the community or group. In other words, it is ‘acceptance’ as a member of a group. In a classroom sense, this is a feeling of students that can affect how they perform and participate. As students feel secure and suitable, they are more connected and engaged in different learning activities.
Love or belonging is the third most important in the hierarchy of human needs as shown in “A Theory of Human Motivation” by Abraham H. Maslow. Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs continues to be the bedrock of other theories of human behavior and motivation. It was emphasized that meeting this basic need will directly impact the student’s ability to learn.
Creating a sense of belonging in the classroom means meeting an important human need. When our students see themselves being connected to one another in the learning space, it gives them a sense of fulfillment.
In this article, we will explore seven awesome tips to foster a sense of belonging among your students, making your classroom a place where everyone feels appreciated, accepted, and empowered.
How Can You Make Everyone in Your Classroom Feel Like They Belong? 7 Awesome Tips to Foster a Sense of Belonging
An instance of being excluded in class drastically affects a student’s performance and self-confidence. Hence, it’s imperative to make our students feel they are not alone. Sharing awesome tips to foster a sense of belonging in the classroom is a wonderful story to tell. So, here they are.
1. Get to Know Your Students on a Personal Level
The foundation of building a strong sense of belonging starts with knowing your students as individuals.
Take the time to learn about their interests, backgrounds, hobbies, and aspirations.
Engage in casual conversations before and after class, inquire about their weekends or extracurricular activities, and remember important details they share. By showing genuine interest in their lives, you demonstrate that each student matters, and that you are invested in their well-being beyond just academics.
2. Establish a Community in the Learning Environment
By building a community in the classroom, our students will get more encouraged to learn and perform at their best. When they feel our unconditional and continued support, they develop respect for us and manifest good social skills, especially with their peers.
If the classroom relationship is built with respect as a strong foundation, it will become a productive learning environment for the students. It should be a place where students’ needs are addressed appropriately.
This sense of belonging is very crucial, especially to struggling students and those who belong to families with low-economic backgrounds. They need to feel that they are welcome in the classroom and that they are allowed to participate in all the activities and enjoy all the learning opportunities. This way can make these students feel positive about their surroundings.
3. Respect Individual Differences
Our classroom can be compared to a garden full of flowers of different kinds and colors. Each flower contributes to the grand beauty of the environment, hence it should be recognized and respected. Likewise with our students.
Respecting individual differences in the classroom will foster a sense of belonging among the students. Teachers have already accepted the reality that students are not exactly the same and they perform at different levels. For me, celebrating their uniqueness means acknowledging their individual contribution to the classroom.
We should accept our students no matter what their capabilities or levels are because they highly depend on us for maximum learning experiences inside or outside the classroom. Also, depriving them of the best learning opportunities will deteriorate their confidence.
Treating our students with a basic level of kindness and respect will make a big difference.
4. Foster Collaborative Learning
Group work in learning makes the students signify the role of teamwork in learning; thus, they efficiently handle the tasks assigned to them and they enrich the sense of belonging in the classroom.
When our students are working with one another in understanding complex concepts or creating an output, they learn collaboratively. I find this learning approach very crucial to settle differences in the classroom and to give each student a sense of belonging.
However, it should be done with the guidance of the teacher and by implementing rules so as to avoid conflicts and dominance in the sharing of ideas and in coming up with solutions.
Furthermore, collaborative learning allows students to interact with one another and evaluate their thoughts. This approach will not only help students feel they belong but will also enhance their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.
During the collaborative process, students are to share their ideas and to listen to others too. They learn to re-evaluate their ideas and consider others; hence, the values of cooperation and respect are strengthened.
5. Build a Positive Learning Environment
Teachers support diversity. It can be seen in the varied teaching strategies and activities we employ. I find it helpful in creating a positive learning environment whether inside or outside the classroom.
The meaningful learning experiences we establish boost the performance of the students because they feel most welcomed in the learning environment. Moreover, a positive classroom is one of the important aspects that magnifies student learning. We can foster a sense of belonging if we establish a positive learning environment for our students. We can do it.
Through our most appropriate motivational techniques, our students will be encouraged to participate and give their best. I know that there are threats that will affect the efficacy of the learning environment such as students’ disruptive behavior due to certain factors. But with our effective and strong classroom management skills, we can make a difference.
Our students will be practically overwhelmed if they don’t belong in a positive learning environment. This will ignite a student behavior issue, but this can be totally avoided if we always create engaging moments in the classroom. The good news is we can make this happen!
6. Know What Can Best Motivate Your Students
As teachers, we should be able to pinpoint what keeps our students motivated to learn. Knowing what can best motivate our students will help us create meaningful learning experiences for them.
Teaching and learning are most effective if our students are highly involved in the process. By making them responsible for learning and by teaching them how to make meaning of their learning experiences, they can successfully take the lead. This is a big challenge for us and we should realize its great importance for productive learning.
For example in my English class, I ask my students to take turns reading the selection and assign them tasks respectively. By giving them jobs, they feel important which encourages them to participate effectively.
For me, one of the exceptional ways to motivate students is by recognizing their efforts and work. But it doesn’t mean we praise their mediocre work but we just have to consider their participation. Our students will feel better if their efforts are valued and will be encouraged to do more.
As our students feel important in the learning environment we set for them, they feel a sense of belonging. They will be more enthusiastic to participate. What’s incredible? It is of our own making as teachers.
7. Make Students Feel They Matter.
Cultivating belonging in the classroom requires you to recognize that each of your learners is unique and forms part of the big group. It should be one of your priorities in the classroom.
Respect their uniqueness by giving them varied learning opportunities through tasks and interesting activities. When students feel that they matter to you, they are more encouraged to participate in the different activities because they are confident that their performance is best appreciated.
Creating opportunities in the classroom will excite students and keep them engaged as well. In essence, when students enjoy what they do they are more comfortable in the learning space and they love going to school.
By getting each of our students involved in the teaching-learning process, they feel a sense of belonging. This will help them engage deeply in learning. Easier said than done. But with our sincerity as teachers, we can make this happen.
We belong in the teaching profession. It requires commitment. Our overall attitude towards our job directly affects our learners. Furthermore, our commitment signifies how we get along with our students. By putting them first, we are keeping each of them a special place in the classroom, hence they belong.
Above all, we are doing everything to provide our students with learning opportunities as our incredible way of helping them become successful.
How can you make everyone in your classroom feel like they belong? As important as all of the awesome tips shared here are your incredible ways of how you make everyone in your classroom feel they belong. Drop your best practices below regarding this factor. I’d love to hear from you.