The Community Building Series


Classes are becoming increasingly more diverse.  More than ever before, students are coming to school with different languages, cultural expectations, traditions, and varying levels of preparedness for the demands of the classroom. While many students can work independently, follow instructions, keep their papers and books organized, take notes and work productively with others, many cannot.  Teaching students how to help other students and work together to create a positive and supportive culture will enable all students to become meaningful and integral members of the school community.  

In order to ensure that all students feel good about themselves and learn as much as possible, each classroom must be a caring learning community that supports each student's learning attempts.  Such learning communities help children develop a sense of being "connected" to education and the school.  They also ensure that all learners become active in the learning process, a prerequisite for progress to occur and for students to feel safe.

The Community Building Series

To learn how to best create learning communities in today's diverse classes, teachers, students, and researchers have worked together to construct methods for teaching students the concepts and strategies needed by community participants.  These methods comprise the Community Building Series.  The three major outcomes associated with the series are

  • students feel both physically and psychologically safe
  • students become involved in activities without fear of ridicule or rejections
  • students' learning and performance are enhanced.

Why Community Building?

  • If students are inactive and isolated, they will not come into contact with the information they need to learn.
  • If students believe their ideas and contributions are not valued, they will become disconnected from the educational milieu.
  • If students think they cannot seek and obtain help when they do not understand something, they will stop asking questions and will not be able to proceed through learning tasks. 
  • If students feel that they are in jeopardy of being ridiculed or put down for making a mistake, they will stop taking risks.

As a result, a "disconnected" classroom will evolve where only some of the students feel accepted, connected, and heard. 

Purpose

The purpose of this series is to build a classroom learning community in which:

  • Students and the teacher work together to facilitate the learning of every student.
  • All members of the class are encouraged to participate and perform at their best.
  • All members of the class feel valued and appreciated for what they can contribute. 
  • All members feel a sense of responsibility for the growth and learning of others in the class.
  • All members feel safe and protected.