Building communities in the classroom is difficult, at best. Middle schoolers are the worst. They teeter between being a child and a teen- they want the rights of grown ups, but not the responsibilities of one. So, I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to create a classroom culture that allows the kids to see each other as friends to grow with and challenge. The other thing about middle schoolers, they can smell a rat. If they, for one single second, don’t believe you are sincere, they’ll turn on you and all of your beautiful plans will be for naught.
Searching through Pinterest, I found fun ways to include every kid in each class! I’m a huge fan of Top Ten lists. I’ve done them for myself and with friends for years: books, playlists, foods, etc. When scouring for classroom community ideas, I found these AWESOME doodle boards that change daily and don’t repeat topics week after week. It keeps kids thinking, entertained, and engaged.
Here are some of my favorites:
Who doesn’t love talking about their favorite songs or artists? It can be a fun way to get kids talking about their shared musical interests, sparking friendships based in music- forever linked because of a playlist!
5thgradeinflorida. “Musical Monday.” Instagram. 11 April 2016.
Welp, here’s where I come clean… I’m a Potterhead (Hufflepuff, to be more specific). And this hilarious board allows kids to determine which spell they’d like to be able to cast and why. Here’s another great opportunity for kids to put their heads together and figure out ways to cause chaos in the classroom!
5thgradeinflorida. “Wizard Wednesday.” Instagram. 7 September 2016.
Another great idea is a “Shout Out Wall”. I’ve got one of these in my classroom and it’s not utilized as often as I’d like, but I’m always encouraging kids to look for the good in each other and praise it. Kids and teachers can “shout out” other kids and teachers for this board. Even the principal has come in to add her compliments to our board.
Here’s an example of one (I wrote the instructions on the board, but they have to come and get Post It Notes from me, or they’ll all go missing):
Houser, Kristin. (26 April 2016). A few ways to say thank you to teachers. Retrieved from https://www.mshouser.com/instructional-coaching/a-few-ways-to-say-thank-you-to-teachers?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Ms%20Houser&utm_content=Daily%20Ms%20Houser+CID_8bbb8acd420d4b5a7b441dfef73862f9&utm_source=Email%20marketing&utm_term=A%20Few%20Ways%20to%20Say%20Thank%20You%20to%20Teachers
PLN communities are important for educators because of how closed off we can feel in the classroom. Having like-minded individuals creating resources to share or purchase, the educational world becomes larger and easier to access and get inspiration from. It’s important for teachers to never stop growing or adapting their best practices to stay influential and effective in an ever changing classroom. PLN communities are a life source for teachers for so many reasons and all of them positively impact classrooms.