- Challenging classroom behavior is often why teachers feel burned out.
- Building a strong classroom community is a proactive strategy to support positive behavior.
- Some strategies to build community include morning meetings, closing circles, mindfulness, and more!
I was a special education teacher for 10 years and have been in the field for 12. The classroom community is my bread and butter. I truly, deeply, wholeheartedly believe that when classroom community is prioritized, it’s so much easier for us as teachers to humanize students and for peers to connect with one another. Challenging behavior in the classroom is a common reason why teachers feel so burned out. While your classroom community won’t eradicate challenging behavior, it’s important to see it as a proactive and preventative strategy! Here are 5 strategies that I would recommend to any teacher—whether special education, middle school, or kindergarten.
Daily Morning Meetings
Morning meeting is more than just calendar time. When classrooms hold a solid, planned, meaningful morning meeting, it can set up the entire day for success. I have watched firsthand that the collective, shared experience is an enormous community builder. Its potential is so powerful!One way to really end the day positively is to always implement a closing circle. No matter what happened throughout the day, it can end on a high note with a positive closing circle. - Allie Szczecinski Click To Tweet
Create Silly Memories Together
Inside jokes are a relationship builder! We all know this.
Creating silly handshakes, sharing jokes, and playing goofy team-building games together can help students feel bonded to one another. These types of scheduled moments can also help students understand and comprehend boundaries. Many students often get carried away in silly moments and it often ends in a not-so-happy moment. Having the ability to practice in a safe place with boundaries can help students transfer this to other situations.
Make Social-Emotional Learning a Focus
When we focus on SEL, it helps students focus on it themselves. Putting emphasis on skills like emotional literacy, emotion management, executive functioning skills, and problem-solving will naturally build community amongst students! It also shows students how much these skills mean. When you teach a skill, it automatically puts emphasis on it for students.
Teach and Implement Mindfulness
Helping students learn how to ground themselves in the present is a skill that will not only build classroom community but develops meaningful personal coping skills in individual students. Having daily mindful practices that are taught for students, like guided meditations and breathing strategies, can help students learn what works best for them. This can also help them build their toolbox. Having mindfulness resources at their fingertips can allow them to save, protect, and manage their relationships with teachers and peers.[scroll down to keep reading]
Prioritize Reflection and Closing Circle
I love closing circle. It is an often overlooked classroom staple, and I personally find it really essential! This helps students set goals, reflect on the day, and end on a high note. One way to really end the day positively is to always implement a closing circle. No matter what happened throughout the day, it can end on a high note with a positive closing circle. It can also give students an opportunity to note anything that fractured the classroom community. Together a plan can be made to repair this and make it a priority for the following day.
What would you add?
About Allie Szczecinski
Allie is a wife, mom, special educator, children’s book author, and social emotional learning coach in Chicago. Additionally, she creates and sells visual, hands-on resources for students and teachers that focus on behavior and social emotional learning. With a master’s degree and over 12 years of professional experience, Allie is a go-to resource for educators everywhere!