Classroom Community Building

It's that time of year! Back to school time (even though I know some of my bloggy friends have been back for a couple of weeks now.) While you may be in a district that wants you to hit the academics hard core from the first day of school and cut out "fluff", there's nothing fluffy about a cohesive classroom. And you can forget good things happening academically when nobody can get along.

Do you hear me administrators?

I think it's a wise idea to spend some time helping your students learn to live together in a room that gives everybody about one square foot of personal space.  So here's a little collection of some fabuloso ideas I found through the wonderful world of blogging.  Here are some great ideas to get your new friends talking to each other, working together, and thinking about what a successful classroom looks like.

1.  Talk about how to treat each other.

Tales from a Tidy Teacher shares a lesson using Finding the Green Stone by Alice Walker.

She gives each student a shiny green "stone".  They plan how they will keep their stones shiny all year.  I think this would be a great anchor lesson to refer to all year long.

Here's a post from Mrs. Robinson's Classroom Blog.  She has a different question each day to get kids thinking about their role in the classroom.

Your actions are who you are.  When things were getting cranky in my classroom last year, we worked on this activity.  We planned out the words that we would want our principal to use when describing us.  Then we planned out the actions that would get us there.

2.  Talk about words and what they can do (for good and evil).

I love love love this poster.  It is from Sweet Blessings who also happens to be the genius behind Technology Rocks.  Seriously.  I had it printed as an 11x17 on glossy card stock ($1.50 at Office Max).  I referred to it all year long the last couple of years.  By the second month of school, all I had to do was say, "THINK before you speak" and they knew exactly what had gone wrong.

Yes, Mrs. O Knows will convince you that toothpaste and toothpicks will teach kids everything they need to know about words.

I tried so hard to find the original source for this one.  Please leave a comment if you know where it came from.  Cause it's awesome.

3.  Have kids work together in a fun way.
Who wouldn't want to save Fred?  This is a great team work lesson from Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies.

This one's from Science Gal.  Now tell me that doesn't look fun?

And because the best way to learn that the world does not revolve around you, have your kids perform RACKS.  Random Acts of Classroom Kindness.  Here's an idea from 3rd Grade Thoughts.  There are tons more great ideas out there on this, too.  Have kids work in teams to plan out some RACKS for each the classroom, other students, and staff, too.

And now for a little giggle: - I expect teachers to create a loving, friendly, and cohesive classroom community. Now, go sprinkle some magic fairy dust and start the curriculum on Day 1.

Hope you have a great school year!