When I started writing this, I was coming off my high from an awesome TESOL 2018, and apparently it was a pretty good conference, as the first clause of this sentence is all I wrote before saving this to my drafts folder. So here, belatedly, is my presentation on from the TESOL Conference in Chicago on building classroom community. Specifically I talk about the four conditions that go into really building classroom community. For each principle, I’ve also shared a few activities that you can use in your classroom. I’ve posted about this elsewhere but I think the presentation works really well.
Note that the second slide is meant to represent a class of bored, unengaged students. It’s a stock photo, not my actual students. Some members of the audience thought it was real. One way to definitely destroy rapport with students is to use their images publicly like that. I would never do that.
The third slide shows the “fun” teacher. This is a popular approach to building community. But it’s an approach that doesn’t really build community because:
- It’s hard to be funny and cute all the time. You can’t be performing every minute of every class.
- Sometimes you have to be serious or even discipline a student and that can feel harsh coming from the “fun” teacher.
- You’re really building community between you (or a persona of you, in fact) and the students, but not a community among the whole students themselves.
Hence my four conditions that exist in places where community is built organically, such as sports teams. I hope this presentation and the free activity ideas are helpful. Please feel free to get in touch with questions or comments.
And if you’re interested in classroom community building, you’re probably doing a lot of group work in your class. Check out our free ebook full of tips for putting students in groups, including factors that lead to strong groups and fun ways to form groups quickly.