The first weeks of school are a pivotal time for you, as you work to develop a respectful classroom learning environment, and learn about resources and strategies for classroom management!

Before the school year even begins, you are hard at work creating dynamic learning spaces for students!  As you continuously work on your space, keep in mind ways that you can help your classroom work best for you and your students. Purposeful physical arrangements can allow you to move, monitor and provide feedback easily. Writing your assignments and schedule, in an easy to access space, and providing ways for students to engage and collaborate, will help to support your classroom management goals. If you need more resources for arranging your classroom, check out this article!

Establishing routines, procedures and the use of schedules also supports your learning environment! The more you plan at the beginning, the clearer the expectations will appear to students. You may want to have a clear signal for students when they are transitioning from one activity to another, or when you need to bring the room back together. Check out these attention grabbing ideas for both elementary and secondary classrooms. A strong classroom community will be the most important tool for managing your classroom!

This is a great way to build community with your class! Ask students to  consider the following questions and they can answer anonymously on post -it notes! If you need other icebreakers, check out these Icebreakers that Rock from the Cult of Pedagogy.

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What students think they need to be successful this school year? 

What students will need you to do to support them? 

What students expect to learn this school year?

What students will need to do to make the school year successful?

Why do students think school is important? 

This short article offers some additional information about building community. The article was written before Covid-19 turned our classrooms upside down, but I find it to be just as applicable today. As you go through these first weeks of school, think of some of the ways you can foster relationships in your classroom, with families and with your coworkers.

What are some ways that you can build a community and develop a sense of belonging? How could your students’ stories contribute to your community and support resilience? How does building a classroom community support a positive learning environment and improve classroom behaviors?

On October 2nd, NC NTSP will host a virtual institute that offers further support in this area. You will have the opportunity to attend sessions that include related topics such as Building and Sustaining a Classroom Community, Building Social Bonds & Inclusion in Digital Learning and Teaching Growth Mindset to Our Students & Ourselves. We cannot wait to see you there!

Aguilar, E. (2018). Onward: Cultivating emotional resilience in educators. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Contributor: Kathy Fields, UNC

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