Feeling seen and understood is an important part of classroom belonging. Students pay attention to whether their teachers and peers notice them, respect them, and support their learning. There are many different ways to learn about and affirm students, both formal and informal, but all require a sincere interest in getting to know young people beyond a superficial level. Some practical examples of learning about and affirming students include:
- Gathering Information about Students’ Identities and Interests. One can’t offer meaningful affirmation to individual students without knowing about them. Gathering information about students multifaceted identities and interests serves as a crucial building block for a strong relationship.
- Using Knowledge about Students to Inform Instruction. Gathering information about students but not acting on it does not yield feelings of relatedness or belonging. Personalized questions, thoughtful comments, and differentiated instruction all show students that their classroom is a place where they are fully seen.
- Offering Feedback in Humanizing Ways. One of the primary roadblocks to classroom belonging is the critical feedback that comes in the form of grades and behavioral redirection. Offering feedback in constructive, thoughtful ways allows students to see feedback as an act of “warm demanding, ” instead of as a lack of care.
For more detail on these strategies and additional resources to support implementation, check out the strategies in the pages that follow.