10 Powerful Community Building Ideas

Teachers have long known that feeling safe and secure at school helps students focus on their studies. Research backs this up: A 2018 study found that when teachers consciously encouraged belonging by greeting each student at the door of the classroom, they saw significant improvements in school engagement times and fewer disruptive behaviors.

Some of the following activities take less than five minutes to complete. They are divided into grades, but many can apply for all years from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Elementary school

  1. Shout-Outs:

This is a quick way for students to celebrate each other for a good job or from trying something difficult. Shout-outs can be added at any time in class.

“It’s not just me as a teacher saying, ‘You did a great job’ — it’s a way for them to communicate with each other and celebrate positivity,” says Valerie Gallagher, a first grade teacher of Providence, Rhode Island.

  1. Friendly Fridays:

Elizabeth Peterson, a fourth-grade teacher in Amesbury, Massachusetts, uses Friendly Fridays as an easy way for students to promote each other and themselves. Peterson has her students write friendly anonymous messages to classmates, practice positive self-talk, or tell stories to encourage classmates.

  1. Sharing Acts of Kindness:

Marissa King, a fifth-grade teacher from Tulsa, Oklahoma, shares two activities that encourage kindness. First, teachers give students secret, well-meaning instructions, such as B. writing an anonymous letter to a struggling classmate in one of their classes.

The second activity is to focus on the kindness of others: for example, if students see a classmate cleaning up the classroom, they can post a thank you message on a shared digital “Wall of Kindness.” Both activities teach students to be kind to their classmates in the hope that they will start practicing kindness without being asked.

Middle school

  1. Paper tweets:

To build community in her seventh-grade classroom, Jill Fletcher of Kapolei Middle School in Kapolei, Hawaii, created a Twitter-style bulletin board. Students use templates to create profiles and recruit at least three followers—a friend, an acquaintance, and someone they don’t have many connections with.

When the class engages in this activity, the first time takes about 45 minutes, Fletcher asks them to respond to prompts about their current mood or a new event in their life, and their followers respond.

  1. Class norms:

Bobby Shaddox, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at King’s Middle School in Portland, Maine, asks his students to develop a set of norms for themselves, an adjective that describes them as a community of learners. As students develop their norms, “every student in the class has a sense of belonging,” says Dr. Pamela Cantor, founder of Children’s Turnaround.

“These are not top-down lists of rules that teachers give their classes, but words that we developed together,” Shaddox said. “It helps us control classroom behavior.”

  1. Group salutes:

A group greeting is a moment shared by two or more students at the beginning or end of an activity. It’s a teacher-initiated interaction and a quick, non-preparatory way to foster community. The shared gesture can be physical — like a high five — or social — and teachers may ask students to express their gratitude to their group members.

There’s some interesting data to support this idea: The researchers found that NBA teams whose players touched the ball the earliest in the season including high-fives, punches, etc., had the best records later in the season.

High School

  1. Morning meetings:

Morning meetings have long been a staple of the elementary school curriculum, but they can help students of all grades transition easily into the classroom. Riverside School, a grades 1 to 12 school in Ahmedabad, India, uses a version of the morning meeting at each grade level as a “pure relationship-building time”. Teacher- or student-led connection practices include physical or social and emotional activities or discussions about sensitive issues such as bullying.

  1. Appreciation & Apology:

As a quick daily wrap-up activity, students form a circle and share a thank you, apology, or a happy moment for one of their classmates. The teacher stimulates the activity by sharing the activity and then asks the volunteers to speak.

“This kind of community appreciation and recognition can go a long way toward building connections,” explains Aukeem Ballard, educator at Summit Public Schools in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  1. Snowball toss:

Students anonymously wrote down one of their stressors on a piece of paper, crumpled it into a circle, and tossed their paper balls in a mock snowball fight. When you’re done, take a snowball and read it out loud. // “The idea is that we move. We can have fun, laugh, scream, shout, and talk about stress,” said Marcus Moore, director of counseling at Chicago City Prep.

  1. Rose and thorn:

At the beginning of the class, the teacher and students take turns sharing a rose (positive things) and a thorn (negative things). The process takes about five minutes.

Alex Sheflin Venet, the former principal of a traumatized high school writes, “A low-risk thorn might be ‘I’m tired,’ but many students choose to share more personal things like ‘My thorn is that my dog ​​is sick and I’m really worried about him.'”.

About the article

Teachers have long known that feeling safe and secure at school helps students focus on their studies. School-wide community-building activities connect students, parents, and teachers; help foster new school traditions; and promote helpfulness, inclusion, and accountability. In this article, we discussed the 10 Powerful Community-Building Ideas for Elementary, Middle as well as High schools.

Jack Marque

Digital Marketer with over 15 years of experience. Certified Digital Marketer and Educator by Google, HubSpot, and many other companies. An ex-employee @uber and @zomato

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