Building a strong school community for your students and teachers is so important. It helps create a place where your teachers want to come to work every day and your students feel that they can have a safe space that encourages their learning.
Feeling safe is a basic human need – safe to learn, safe to connect, and safe to be ourselves. This means, when we find these spaces in our lives, we feel a stronger bond with them. As a school is a place where students spend 7+ hours a day there, and teachers as well, making these hours feel comfortable is vital.
This doesn’t have to be a top-down process though. Everyone at a school should have a part in building a sense of community. The benefits are huge: recent studies have shown that students who feel that they are attending a school with a strong community are often more motivated academically, demonstrate more altruistic behavior, and develop a more acute emotional intelligence.
How can you effectively assess how strong your school community is? A very simple place to start is by asking your teachers and students to consider the following statements and answer how truthful they think they are to their classrooms.
In my classroom, we all feel safe.
We all help one another learn and grow in my classroom.
For students: If something is bothering me, I feel as though I can speak to my teacher about it. For teachers: My students come to me to discuss when things are troubling them.
Taking some time to ask your teachers and students these questions each year can make a world of difference as you develop a strong sense of community at your school. One thing you should prepare for as you survey students, however, is some negative feedback.
How can you take negative feedback and use it fruitfully? We’ll discuss this in our blog next week on building a stronger sense of community.