It's a simple question, isn't it? But this questions goes much deeper into the culture of your classroom and school. In fact, I believe this question looks deep into the relationships that you are cultivating with your environment. So let me ask one more time; Do you know your students?
There are many answers to this question. Some teachers might think of reading levels or math levels. Maybe they even think of writing stages or phonemic awareness, but what I want to dive into is knowing your students as people. Do you know what makes each child tick? Do you know his or her strengths outside of academics? I believe this is the heart of a classroom. Without knowing what your students are passionate about or enjoy doing, how can you expect to form a true trustworthy relationship?
As educators, we spend 180 days with our students. To allow our students to feel comfortable to talk with us about anything, we must be accessible and make our students feel loved. Here are some ideas to help build that classroom community:
- Morning Meeting / Morning Circle
- My class begins with sharing a "High Five, Handshake, or Hug". We share out what's going on our in lives, new learning, our weekly events, and play a word game. Here are some other ideas:
- Share a Classroom Google Calendar
- Create a classroom Google Calendar that all families can add to for the year. You can add happenings for the classroom while parents add happenings for the students. For example, parents can add extra curricular games and events that others (including yourself) can attend. For instructions on how to create a shared Google Calendar, click here.
- Share a joke or riddle of the day
- I love using humor in the classroom. In fact, laughing is my favorite! So I love to share a joke or riddle of the day. Sometimes I have to explain the riddle or joke, and that's okay! I find that jokes and riddles often lead to discussions on synonyms, antonyms, or multi-meaning words...what great learning!
- Have a routine
- We have a routine for our morning meetings, thank to my friend Maci Johnson. Personally, I like routines and it helps me stay organized. So here's my classroom meeting routine:
- Mystery Monday: Share a Mystery Doug video
- Talk about It Tuesday: Choose a topic relative to all students to discuss together
- Would you Rather Wednesday: Pose a question of "Would you rather... or ..." and ask students to justify or tell why for their choice.
- Think about It Thursday: Show students a small/short video that provide a different culture or point of view & allow time to discuss