A classroom is a dynamic social environment. Each class period, there are many opportunities for students to engage with their teacher and with one another. A classroom that encourages a sense of belonging is a place of intentional connection; the teacher creates structured opportunities for students to see each other and be seen, to develop trust and rapport, and to learn together. Some practical examples of facilitating connections include:
- Building trust through fun and engaging activities. One of the foundational components of fostering a sense of belonging is simply getting to know others better. Icebreakers, teambuilders, and other low-stakes activities can help students feel more comfortable and connected to each other.
- Create Opportunities for Student-Centered Discussion. Students need time and space to engage with one another to co-create meaning and internalize knowledge. Collaborative learning structures allow students to spend more time sharing with and listening to each other.
- Establish Norms and Roles for Collaboration. Being intentional about the ways that collaboration takes place can yield large benefits in terms of classroom belonging. Establishing collective norms and creating a variety of roles within groups ensures that all students will have opportunities to contribute, learn and grow.
- Scaffold Opportunities for Trust and Vulnerability. Belonging can’t fully take shape at a “surface” or merely academic level. Students need more substantive sharing opportunities where they allow others to see and affirm their full selves.
For more detail on these strategies and additional resources to support implementation, check out the strategies in the pages that follow.