Medium 9781935249917

Building Classroom Communities: Strategies for Developing a Culture of Caring

Views: 684
Ratings: (0)

Create a unified, caring classroom in which all students love to learn and feel a sense of belonging. Developed from the author’s experience, this resource helps you create an emotionally safe environment, teach empathy as a primary skill, and much more.

List price: $23.99

Your Price: $19.19

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

4 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

Section One: The Classroom Community

ePub

Section One

The Classroom Community

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

—David Whyte, The House of Belonging (p. 6)

ESTABLISHING A CLASSROOM COMMUNITY

What Is a Classroom Community?

A CLASSROOM COMMUNITY IS A PLACE where students feel safe both emotionally and physically, where they feel supported, and where they feel enthusiastic about the discoveries each new school day will bring. It is a place where every individual is honored and where a sense of interdependence is built into the culture. David Whyte’s poem speaks of such a place—where a person feels most at home, free to be his or her own true self without fear of being judged, labeled, or excluded. In this “house of belonging” an individual’s unique life experience is embraced, celebrated, and trea-sured; to belong to the group does not mean giving up one’s individuality. The classroom community, properly constructed, is also a house of belonging, and students thrive when exposed to the sense of security such a community can provide.

 

Section Two: A Culture of Caring

ePub

Section Two

A Culture of Caring

Without reverence, our experiences are brutal and destructive. With reverence, our experiences become compassionate and caring. We shall come to honor all of Life sooner or later. Our choices are when that shall happen, and the quality of experience that we shall have as we learn.

—Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul (p. 58)

RECOGNIZING WHAT WE HAVE BUILT

ONE YEAR WHILE TEACHING SIXTH GRADE, as I watched my students acting compassionately toward one another while working on a group activity, I found myself thinking, “I wish someone could come in here and see this.” It was mid-October and I was excited because it was obvious that my students were practicing the habits I was seeking to promote—the habits that create a culture of caring. A culture of caring is a moment-by-moment practice of compassion for others, embodying a sense of reverence for life. A place where such habits are practiced is a safe space, one in which honor and compassion are the norm and connectedness is the outcome. It is all about the teacher’s intentions, about modeling and encouraging and even ritualizing the behavior we call caring. When caring is identified and practiced without fail, when it is ritualized, its significance is highlighted and it becomes the cornerstone of the classroom community.

 

Section Three: Working With Your Classroom Community

ePub

Section Three

Working With Your Classroom Community

A CLASSROOM COMMUNITY, with its focus on empowering the individual, offers what psychologist Carl Rogers (1980) calls “a person-centered approach”—a group experience in which a participant “can become increasingly autonomous and creative as the architect of his or her own life” (p. 183). In such a classroom young people can learn about themselves and others through a series of connecting experiences. It is a place where support and encouragement reign, where students feel as much joy in being providers of help and generosity as they do in being receivers.

In this section you will find a number of classroom exercises designed to encourage the kind of communal classroom atmosphere most conducive to fostering autonomy in students. This is a section made up entirely of suggestions for putting ideas into practice. These exercises are designed to help students develop the kinds of social skills they need when building not only the classroom community, but other communities throughout their lives. All the exercises are intended to encourage generosity and empathy in students. All are community-building and community-strengthening exercises. The exercises are independent, and may be used in any order. I have organized them here according to the part of the learning process—beginning, middle, end—to which each exercise most lends itself.

 

Section Four: Teaching Empathy

ePub

Section Four

Teaching Empathy

From empathy to compassion is but a step.

—Frederick Franck, Fingers Pointing Toward the Sacred

WITH ALL THE COMMUNITY-BUILDING EXERCISES detailed in the previous section and all the discussion of cultures of caring and the skills of listening, sharing, honoring, and respecting, we have been approaching the sentiment upon which all healthy social interaction is dependent: empathy.

I would have simply left the exercises as they were and not added this separate section devoted to the fostering of empathy, had it not been for an experience I had while teaching a particular class.

THE BIRTH OF A PROCESS

One cold winter day in a workshop for eighth-grade students in upstate New York, when we were discussing the courage it takes to stand up for another person, we spontaneously created a three-step process that led toward an empathic action. I starting making up a series of challenging scenarios about others, about the experiences these hypothetical others might be going through, and together we came up with three questions: What happened to the person? How is that person feeling? and What could be done to help and support the person? We went through this series of questions a few times, realizing their extraordinary effectiveness, and thus the Event Empathy Action method (EEA) was born.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000030378
Isbn
9781936765775
File size
431 KB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata