Apparently, to heighten student success, students must feel a deep sense of love and belonging in the classroom. These are the highly impactful accommodation needs of students so they can be at their best. Every learner must feel our high level of acceptance. How do you create a sense of belonging in the classroom?
I am deeply inspired by the gems of thoughts shared by Henri Nouwen which goes, “The best of community does give one a deep sense of belonging and well-being, and in that sense of community takes away loneliness.”
That is why as a teacher, I always include in my teaching goals: building a community in the classroom to make students feel they belong. I am pretty aware of how they feel as they join a new class.
They feel mixed emotions. Some are excited. But some are hesitant and lonely. Hence, I make sure that my effective ways of bringing together my students will empower them to be at their best.
In this post, we will delve into smart strategies that give students a sense of belonging in the classroom. Hopefully, you can gain insights to help you cultivate good relationships in the classroom as well.
How Do You Create a Sense of Belonging in the Classroom?
Employ these techniques by cultivating a sense of belonging in the classroom to ensure that your students feel welcome, safe, and supported.
1. Prepare the learning environment
Effective teachers value the importance of preparation and planning. For one thing, you should spend weeks before the opening of classes preparing your classroom such as designing your bulletin boards and arranging students’ desks.
Furthermore, you must ensure that teaching and learning tools are set and the school supplies are ready. This is quite needed knowing that not all students have a complete package of school supplies.
They must not feel deprived. Help them not to feel that way.
Moreover, one crucial factor that impacts student learning is the physical arrangement and layout of the classroom. Preparing the classroom can make the students feel they are important and valued.
As students enter the classroom, they should make an impression that they are in an organized learning environment. Moreover, well-prepared classrooms can optimize student engagement and interest. It is a manifestation that you are a well-prepared teacher.
2. Welcome students at the door
When students are coming, stand by the door to welcome them. This is one great way to set a welcoming atmosphere in the classroom.
Wearing your prettiest smile while greeting your students boosts their confidence and can make them feel a sense of belonging.
Likewise, National Education Association shared interesting strategies of welcoming students to help out children who feel anxious as they set foot into the classroom during the first day of classes.
And then expressing how happy you are having your students as they enter the classroom can buffer their feelings of doubts and anxiety. The first day of classes can be very challenging for some students, hence you should spend a great deal of time planning how to welcome them.
Let them hear your inspiring words as they enter the classroom. Your welcome messages will enliven their spirits and help them develop a positive self-concept that they have made the right decision of being in your class.
For instance, by extending your welcome wishes such as “Welcome my dear students, this is your new classroom. You are important and you are valued. I will help you realize your potential.”
3. Be creative in your get-to-know activities
How do you create a sense of belonging in the classroom?
Remembering names should be made fun and exciting. Significantly, getting-to-know activities are among the back-to-school ideas that you need to prepare.
Moreover, giving students enjoyable “greeting and meeting activities” will allow them to get along with their classmates very well. It can help students feel more at ease in their new learning environment.
Hence, you should look into it to make the first day of classes memorable for the students.
You can gather a lot of fun activities and ice breakers around the web or you can collaborate with your colleagues. For sure, your fellow teachers also own time-tested get-to-know strategies.
Help your students make new friends by initiating interactive introductory activities. Join them as they reveal themselves and you should share your own piece as well.
For more choices, you can check TeacherVision for more fun and exciting get-to-know activities to help your students feel comfortable and relaxed on the first day of classes.
4. Call students by their first names
“Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie
Use students’ first names since day one! It can make them feel special, unique, and confident that they belong in your class.
When students are aware that you know their individual names, they become more sociable and receptive. To show that, a study reveals that students most like it if their teachers perceive their names.
Besides, learning student names is crucial to cultivating a sense of community in the school. In particular, if you call your students by their names you establish a positive connection with them and they’ll feel it. Not only will it initiate positive communication in the classroom, but it also increases student confidence.
5. Set expectations and establish norms
One of the effective ways to create a sense of belonging in the classroom is to set clear expectations and establish norms. When students know what is expected of them, they are more confident to participate in learning activities.
That is why the first few weeks of the school year are usually part of the challenging world of teachers. Moreover, the clear and consistent expectations in the classroom guide students on how to take responsibility for their behavior and in their academic success.
Further, positive communication is always the key to set consistent expectations and classroom rules. Your students as well as the parents should be aware of the classroom standards so they know exactly what they should do. It’s a great way to build a safe classroom.
When students feel they are supported because they are given importance right from the start, their enthusiasm to learn increases.
6. Assign classroom jobs
If you are still in doubt of how do you create a sense of belonging in the classroom, assign your students different responsibilities so they feel that you believe in their capacities.
Teach students about responsibility. When students are assigned to special tasks in the classroom, they feel their worth. Entrusting your students with some responsibilities will not only make them responsible but will also increase their self-awareness and self-worth.
Assigning your students to specific roles should be done in rotation so that all are given equal opportunities in the classroom. For example, in maintaining classroom cleanliness, peace and order, it’s more effective if students are grouped accordingly.
Also, in group discussions and presentations, you should monitor the specific assignments of the members to ensure that everyone is involved, especially the reluctant and timid ones. Help them to grow and help them develop their potential.
Furthermore, collaboration in the classroom is an important aspect in building a sense of community in the classroom in order for students to feel they belong.
7. Involve students in classroom planning
But why would you involve your students in classroom planning? Aside from the fact that they are the main reason for creating a positive atmosphere, your students should have an idea of how hard you work to increase their performance.
Involve them in designing classroom bulletins, planning for seating arrangements, arranging school supplies, and implementing classroom routines.
Moreover, planning for the classroom activities gives students opportunities to present their creative ideas. Doing so can boost their self-esteem, especially when their voices are considered.
Give something to students that will necessitate classroom management to keep students involved actively in classroom planning and activities.
Your students’100 percent participation will make you feel more inspired to teach as well. Knowing that your students are interested, you are more motivated to meet the varied learning needs of your students.
Thus, your students will begin to give the impression, “I am very lucky to be in this class because I have a very supportive teacher who believes in my capabilities.”
8. Interact with your students
For me, this is the best part. I find that talking with students is a meaningful experience. It’s fun interacting with them. I won’t lie.
Spend quality time with your students, not only during lesson interactions. You can be with them during recess or during class breaks. Communicating with your students will help you know their deeper thoughts and how they are.
Listen to their stories. Ask them how you can be of help or if they have questions regarding the previous discussions.
Getting your students together will also establish good relationships in your classroom that bring about respect for one another. The more students know one another the more they understand their strengths and weaknesses.
Intiate having dialogues with your students and encourage them to share their stories. This is an effective way of expunging the feeling of isolation especially to students who are disinclined.
Make it a solid routine to set up student-teacher interactions. It builds students’ self-esteem and intensifies connections. Moreover, it can lead to life-changing scenarios in the classroom because your students will feel your concern, empathy, and love.
9. Make learning interactive and collaborative
Give your students equal opportunities to share their thoughts and ideas by initiating group tasks. By making learning interactive and collaborative, students build rapport with one another and they learn.
As they work together, they feel that they are part of the group and they know more about one another. Additionally, assigning them in groups can enrich their learning experiences. This can be more effective if you are designing activities outside the classroom to let them explore.
As students long to belong, as the concerned adult and professional in the classroom, you should do your best to create interactive avenues both inside and outside the classroom.
Collaborative tasks should go beyond the four walls of the classroom, I should say. By doing this, students will be more comfortable communicating with one another and they will be more confident to discuss things with you.
Hence, they extremely feel that they belong!
10. Celebrate student achievement and use praises
When students display their best, you should be ready with your praises. Celebrating student achievement impacts students’ efforts and energy.
Students excel because they give their best. Just like how you teach them effectively that you make a difference in their lives. Therefore, you should go all out with your praises and encouraging words.
You can have a simple program in the classroom where you recognize and give appreciation to class achievers. Also, don’t forget to include students with laudable behavior.
Furthermore, the best thing you can do is to provide equitable opportunities for your students to join in different extra-curricular activities such as sports and academic competitions.
Again, when students feel that they belong, they are always excited to learn and they love to be in your class. Rita Pierson, a well-known educator, mentioned in her talk at TED, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” Hence, we should make our students like us as their teachers and as their trusted adults.
Hopefully, the practical strategies shared above can help you connect with your students on an authentic level while magnifying human elements.
Maximize instructional time while optimizing student engagement by cultivating a sense of belonging in the classroom. It is crucial. Extend your best efforts to enrich their classroom learning experiences. It can help your students get ready for everyday learning.
However, I still ask, how do you create a sense of belonging in the classroom?
Let’s take a look at your wonderful ideas so we can build a strong foundation for quality student learning. Shoot your techniques in the comment section below.