Why Is Creating a Remarkable Classroom Community More Valuable?

The Value of a Remarkable Classroom Community

 A Remarkable Classroom Community is Filled with Learners Who Respect and Care for One Another

A Remarkable Classroom Community is Filled with Learners Who Respect and Care for One Another

A remarkable classroom community consists of a thriving group of learners who respect and care for one another. Achieving this type of environment can be a valuable accomplishment for the students and the teacher. 

Lately, I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking about why having a strong sense of community is so crucial in the classroom. After spending 17 years in an elementary classroom, I made a shift to the Media Center as a Media Specialist. So primarily I had six classes a day (k-5th-grade) and a Media Center to run. First, I have to say; I had sadly underestimated the job of a Special Area teacher, and it was time for me to take a huge piece of humble pie!

Reflection often leads to a huge piece of humble pie

Reflection Can Lead to a Huge Piece of Humble Pie

I quickly realized that the key to my past success in the classroom had been in the rapport I had built with my students. My classrooms ran like second families. I loved all of my students. {Remember families are NOT all sunshine and roses, but you still love them!}  The Media Center with six classes a day was a whole new ballgame. Kindergarten for one is an entirely different story! Let me just say it’s kinda like herding cats and should be a much higher paying job. As for the 5th grade, well that nearly killed me! So I started to think about why it had worked in my classroom but was NOT working in my Media Center. 

Yes, there were some factors that some may say could be part of the equation, such as I moved from a Non-Title One school to the most prominent Title One school in my district. On top of that it was an L300 school; which means it was one of the lowest-performing schools in the state. Since that is a whole other discussion, let’s just say everything was different. However, I believe that all kids can learn and that all kids have value and are worthy of love. So laying the differences aside, I needed to figure out what to do and what to do YESTERDAY

Everything I have learned and reflected upon has taken me back to the classroom community- the relationship with the kids, the expectations and procedures, and the culture in which we live and learn. So I would like to share some of the information I have gathered on classroom communities and why they are so valuable to the students and the teacher. 

What is a Classroom Community?

 A Remarkable Classroom Community is Valuable to Students and Teachers

A Remarkable Classroom Community is Valuable to Students and Teachers

A classroom community is an environment in which students learn and function as a whole. Further research by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas about Learning and the Adolescent Mind discusses the explanation of a community of learners. 

A community of learners can be described as a group of people who share a common purpose, such as to learn, and who actively engage in learning from one another. A community of learners is one of the goals in a classroom community. When the environment in the room is built on mutual respect and caring, a community of learners is then more likely to occur. 

After reading about a mutually respectful environment really made me think. Was I creating a school-wide community that portrayed mutual respect and caring? It’s harder to do then you think with such a range of children. Also, there were over 700 students! I didn’t even know everybody’s name! 

Why is a Classroom Community Vital?

According to Scholastic.com's Creating Classroom Communitychildren learn best when they feel they are part of a community in which everyone feels valued and accepted. Individuality is a key to creating a community. Each person’s unique ways of thinking and doing things need to be honored and encouraged. Creating this kind of classroom community requires planning and practice. 

A lot of practice goes into classrooms where all students feel valued! I will be diving more into how to accomplish this task in the next few learning blog posts

A huge factor in my understanding of children was their need for basic necessities. If kids don’t have their basic needs met, getting them to be involved in anything school related is nearly impossible. I think that is why the article I read from Psychology Today, Pieces of Mind by Karyn Hall, Ph.D., was so powerful and valuable.

A sense of belonging or being accepted as a member or a part of a community is so important for children. Belonging is such a simple word for such a huge concept. A sense of belonging is a basic human need. We all want to feel a part of something. It’s as necessary as food and shelter. When a child feels valued, they are better able to see value in life and better able to cope with painful emotions. As teachers, we know that if a child is unable to cope with pain, they are unable to learn. Often we see that kids who have suffered from trauma struggle in the classroom. How could they not? Their basic need is not being met. All basic needs have to come first before the expectation of learning is to occur. 

So after really looking at the power of belonging, the importance of developing a community of learners, and reflecting upon my practice both in the classroom and out, I came to some obvious conclusions. I realized that building and maintaining a healthy, caring, and inclusive classroom community was valuable for the success of my students and my sanity. So for now, we know what a classroom community is and why it is so important. In the next few learning posts, we will take a look at how to develop classroom communities, whether that is in an actual classroom or in a shared space in your school. I hope you will join me in further discussions. Feel free to comment below on what resonates most with you or what you would like to discuss further. 

For Now, Happy Teaching and Learning!