Fostering a sense of belonging for students can create an environment where learning can thrive. Where it feels open and collaborative, and learners feel safe to share ideas, confident in applying their knowledge or skills and are supported when they take a risk or even experience failure. When students feel like someone knows them and believes in them, there is a greater motivation to succeed.
A survey conducted by the Education Week Research Center revealed that 80% of educators thought a sense of belonging in the classroom is important for student success, highlighting how integral teachers are to build a positive learning environment and school culture.
The learning communities we create in our classrooms and schools is fueled by the shared values, beliefs and attitudes and learning. When purposeful in building culture, you can create an engaged membership, a greater sense of self and trust.
Here are some ways to foster a sense of belonging in your learning community:
Foster connections by helping students to find common ground
- Characterize your classroom as a learning community and invite ‘members or citizens’ to create community norms
- Deepen your understanding of your student’s current mindset and what can motivate them.
Classroom Idea: Free Printables
Hang these posters in your classroom. Ask students what quote they best identify with and have them write on a notecard why and put notecard on the poster. Use this as a gallery walk for other students to discover what others have said.
Help students normalize their concerns about transitions / change and forming new relationships
- Invite older students to share their experiences of feeling uncertain about their belonging and how this improved over time.
- Encourage students to write about how their own experiences match those of what they heard from others.
Engage families with strategies to help support their child’s sense of belonging at school
- Share with them powerful phrases from school that they can use at home to promote mindset
- Invite parents to learn from their child at a student led conference, where they might meet and learn from other students and their families. Families, no matter the structure or make-up, need to feel like they belong too.
Creating a culture of learning is about developing relationships based on trust and respect. When kids feel like they belong, that their teacher believes in them, they become confident in who they are and can be more open and motivated to learning.