Creating community is more than a series of activities…..it is a commitment to finding ways for students to support each other. That is not always easy! Supporting and encouraging others is not a part of every community that we teach and live in. It isn’t always a part of our family history, nor the dynamic of our students’ home lives.
Like everything else we do, it requires patience and a constant series of safe opportunities for student to be a part of. Once students begin to experience what being part of a community really means, they begin to buy in and often lead the way…..but that can take some time.
My first period class (so far!) seems to be a group that is willing to step up, so I asked them to start something this morning that blossomed throughout the day. It was the day of our first quiz. (I try to give some sort of assessment each Thursday because it helps me to plan for the next week.) The first period group was a little nervous, but no surprise, they felt good about their answers.
Today’s quiz was really more about teaching them the logistics of taking a test/quiz in a deskless classroom, and to build their confidence about quizzes in the weeks to come. After the quiz was over, I asked them to share their thoughts about how it went. They were relieved that it wasn’t too difficult and some of them admitted that they had been pretty worried about it.
I asked them to write “Good luck!” to the next class on the whiteboards that we keep under the chairs to write on. When the next period came in, each student had a note saying ‘GOOD LUCK!” on the white board under his/her seat. At first, they were puzzled. Why did they wish me good luck? Who wrote it? Do they know me? But after a few moments, they began to share their messages with the students nearby and several took pictures to save and send.
Then they erased the messages and took their own quiz. Towards the end of the period, a student asked, “Aren’t we going to make Good Luck boards too?” Of course we were, but I was waiting to see if they would ask…..and they did!!
The last period of the day wrote “Good morning” on their boards and emphatically informed me that next Wednesday they needed to write “Good luck” for the 1st period class to see Thursday morning.
Just a quick, easy, safe way to build community….and yes…I took a quick look at each board before they left the room…..just to be sure all of the messages/drawings were appropriate. :0) It is middle school after all!
Check out the pictures below! (I wish the one of all 31 of them had turned out!)