4 Ways to Engage Students With Your Community

Rae HughartBlog, Engage Better, Innovate Better, Lesson Plan Better, Personalize Student Learning Better, Tech Better

In This Post:

  • Community engagement is an incredibly valuable experience for students.
  • Four ways to incorporate community engagement into your classroom or in your role.

I have learned a number of different strategies for teaching over the last few years. I’ve taken a deep dive into mastery learning and explored gamification. I have dabbled with badging. I have dissected personalized learning. Coding in the classroom has been reviewed with a fine tooth comb.

But my love, my passion, and my grape jelly jam is student and community engagement.

Now I should preface, there are a lot of ways to engage with students out there these days. My Instagram feed is full of teachers selling awesome lessons and gorgeous classroom decorum. Nevertheless, when it comes to engagement, it’s less about the picture worthy look and more about the relevancy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a pretty space, but if you want continuous student engagement, you have to immerse the students in the WHY of their learning through relevancy. And what is more relevant to our students than the world they actually live in?

If you want continuous student engagement, you have to immerse the students in the WHY of their learning through relevancy. And what is more relevant to our students than the world they actually live in? Click To Tweet

Here are 4 ways you can bring relevancy and purpose into your classroom utilizing your community tomorrow.

Community Engagement Strategy #1: Virtual Tours

Eager for a field trip? For me, the bus fees are what stops my students from seeing their learning in action on a daily basis. So take their experience virtual!

By using virtual reality or a simple Chromebook, you can allow your students to explore places in your community or within the surrounding world. Google Maps and Google Expedition can build outstanding moments for your students to see the relevancy of their content.

Community Engagement Strategy #2: Shout Out Videos

It’s important to remind students that they have cheerleaders and coaches everywhere to support them! So ask friends and community members to film a quick 15-second shout out video to encourage them every so often!

Hey, 6th Grade Students! My name is Tony and I am the manager at Caroline Cookies! I just wanted to give you a quick shout out and tell you how much I appreciate your hard work. Middle school is tough, but you are tougher! If you ever need anything, know we are here to help you!

These quick videos can be wonderful bell ringers or hooks for your content!

Community Engagement Strategy #3: Themed Internship Units

Need a way to immerse students in relevancy every day during each lesson? Design themed internships for students to learn their content by partnering with local business sponsors.

Career-themed units can focus on future professional paths, transformative classroom environments, and strong community support. Each unit then concludes with a community outreach challenge disbursing student learning back into its community.

Using the Teach Further Methods, teachers can build students love for learning to exceed the four walls of a traditional classroom. Can you say college and career readiness?

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Community Engagement Strategy #4: Welcome Them In

Allow community members who use your content in the workplace into the classroom. Learning about narrative writing? Invite in a local author. Learning about cells? Welcome in a veterinarian to share their insight. Students love hearing from those in the community!

As you continue exploring new ideas for your classroom, choose to incorporate your community into your students learning opportunities. It can seem daunting at first, but starting with these four strategies can get you there!

About Rae Hughart

Rae Hughart is a Middle-Level Math and Writing Educator in Illinois and the Director of Training and Development for the Teach Better Team. In 2017, Rae was honored with the Illinois State University Outstanding Young Alumni Award – inducting her into the University Hall of Fame. In 2018, Rae was honored again by the Henry Ford Innovator Award for her work within educators communities to build unity between local businesses and schools.