Building community in your classroom
It was the first advisory of the year: Forty minutes to spend with the group of grade 7s (year 8s) I would see every morning for registration. I wanted us to bond as a class, feel part of a team; in short, become a community.
In Values and Visions we feel it is crucial to have a core set of values in your community. These are the prism through which we pass all our decisions and actions. I decided to use Values at Work, one of our signature activities.
I invited the students to close their eyes, to relax and to project themselves forward to the end of the week. What would have happened to make it a successful, satisfying and fulfilling week? I then asked them to reflect on what values, what qualities, would have helped them to make it successful.
We then “returned to the classroom and each one wrote down the values they had identified. They next moved into small groups and shared what they had come up with. I now asked them to highlight the group’s top three and write each one on a separate post-it note. The students brought these up and stuck them on a board. I read them out slowly to the class, asking them to think carefully about each one. We clustered those that were the same or similar.
Throughout, the students were focused and engaged. They seemed pleased and proud with what they had come up with. It brought them together. The values are up in our homeroom for them and others who use the room to see and reflect on.
We finished the season by thinking what each of us is bringing to this community. Using “Going on a Journey”, we envisaged the year ahead as a journey we are taking together. Then we went round the class with each student saying what they were bringing on this journey. The first student said, “We’re going on a journey and I’m taking my kindness.” The next one said, “We’re going on a journey and I’m taking Ahmed’s kindness and my organisation.” Her neighbour continued, “We’re going on a journey and I’m taking Ahmed’s kindness, Alice’s organisation and my sense of humour.” We continued around the class, helping each other out when necessary, until we had the whole community’s gifts. What an amazing group we are!
Time was up. In those forty short minutes we had laid the foundation for a great year ahead by affirming our values and boosting our confidence in the knowledge that we are not alone on this journey; we are a team; we are a community.
These activities and more in a V&V cycle on SELF will be posted soon on our website. Sign up to join the V&V community of educators to receive your free resources: values-and-visions,com.