As a primary education teacher, I find that the most important aspect of a successful school year is building a sense of community in the classroom. When my students feel heard, loved and safe as they walk through my doors we are able to focus on the day ahead. We have a level of respect for one another that allows us to overcome the obstacles we approach throughout the year and makes the classroom that much more enjoyable. I have found three game changing activities that build community in the classroom starting from week one. I’m excited to share my experiences with you!
Greet Your Students at the Door
As your students arrive at school each day, they will be showing up with a wild range of emotions. Some may have started their day off on the wrong foot by spilling their cereal at breakfast while others woke up cheerful and ready to conquer the day. Having a routine they know will be waiting for them at the door gives them something to look forward to regardless of how their day started.
Students love to greet both their teachers and their classmates in some sort of special way. I’m sure you’ve heard them greet one another the same way each day by noting that they saw each other on the bus, or complimenting their outfit; but, what’s really cool is when they form a relationship with their teacher through a personalized greeting. This greeting makes them feel comfortable with the day, even after a morning of spilt cereal.
I display this small poster version of Morning Classroom Greetings right at the doorway to our classroom. The students choose which greeting they feel comfortable using to say hello to me. Letting students choose their greeting is important; some students don’t like hugs while others crave that physical contact. This poster was created to be used during the pandemic and encourages no contact. You can easily create your own, or this one is available in the Rainbow Sunshine Collection or as a single purchase in my shop!
Build Community with Morning Meeting
What’s a morning meeting you might ask? Teachers all conduct their morning meeting a different way but they are a great way to ease students into the activities of the day and make sure everyone starts the day off right. The teacher usually leads a routine discussion of some kind where students are invited to participate or just listen to what is said.
A morning meeting might include some of these elements:
- Calendar Time
- Group Activity
- Weekend or Evening Sharing
- Morning Message
- Joke of the Day
- Exit Ticket
These morning meeting routines help students feel welcome and heard. They also set the students up for success by letting them see what the day will entail. I find them extremely helpful for students with individualized plans who may need extra direction or structure in their day.
We use these Rainbow Slideshow Templates during our morning meeting. They keep each day consistent and since there are tons of template options, I just prep the slides and skip the ones we don’t need. Did you know you can do that in Google Slides? Just right click the slide you want to skip and select “skip slide”. Then, when you present the morning meeting, the students will only see the slides you chose for that day.
It might seem boring to use the same slides over and over, but I change the content on the slides each day. Young learners thrive off of consistency, so presenting them with a pattern of information each day is less overwhelming than changing things up each week. They also know what to expect, so they can come to morning meeting prepared to share and learn about the days events.
Building Relationships with Students Using Name Tents
Sometimes, building relationships with students can be tough because they don’t feel comfortable enough to share their needs with you right away. Maybe they are shy or they just need some extra time to warm up.
I like to provide my students with plenty of ways to express themselves, right from day one. We use these editable Relationship Building Name Tents, which are amazing for two reasons.
- They create a way for you to easily see your students’ names, so you can speak to them and get to know them by name during the first few days of school. Students can also see their classmates names and learn them quicker.
- They enable you to have a way to communicate with ALL students during the first few days of school. You will have a short, written conversation for the first five days of school with each student! This is especially great for the shy or introverted students that we sometimes struggle with making connections!
Since many students may want to keep their thoughts between themselves and the teacher, the notes are on the underside of the name tent. No one else can read what they have written, except for you. This is also important for building relationships with students. It makes them feel heard and like they have a little secret that just the two of you know about!
By using Classroom Greeting Posters, Morning Meeting Routines and Relationship Building Name Tents, students will feel like part of the classroom right away. They will quickly learn to trust you and one another, making fast friends. I hope these ideas help your classroom community grow this upcoming year!
- To purchase the Classroom Greeting Posters, CLICK HERE.
- Looking to buy the Morning Meeting Slides, CLICK HERE.
- To grab the Relationship Building Name Tents, CLICK HERE.
If you’re looking for other ways to motivate and let your students know that you care, check out my post about Goal Setting in the Classroom!