Making a Difference in the Classroom: Strategies that Connect with Students

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At the community level, it is important to understand neighborhood demographics, strengths, concerns, conflicts and challenges. Like students themselves, these dynamics may change frequently. For teachers whose experiences differ from those of their students, it is critical to exercise sensitivity. They must bring the following to the effort:. Honoring student experience supports three of the four anti-bias domains: Identity, Diversity and Action.

3 Ways to Make Meaningful Connections With Your Students

Students who feel their experiences are unwelcome, judged, stereotyped, disrespected or invisible find it extremely difficult to engage in meaningful discussion of identity and justice issues. Those whose stories and voices are heard and reflected in the classroom are more likely to engage with anti-bias curriculum and translate their learning into action. These practices also open channels of understanding among students.

Personal anecdotes—respectfully and thoughtfully shared by teachers—have great power. Stories should be chosen carefully, kept brief, and told at a level that invites appropriate student sharing. Community studies usually address up to three questions; structure can vary greatly and may involve research, interviews, art, writing, video or other media.

A walking tour should also focus on a few themes and ask students to highlight neighborhood places they find meaningful in relation to a relevant social issue. Student age and physical limitations should be taken into consideration when planning a walking tour. Without saying a word, classrooms send messages about diversity, relationship building, communication and the roles of teachers and students.

Sense of belonging decreases in secondary school

Consider the different messages sent by these two classrooms:. Desks are arranged in a U shape. On the wall is a poster of U.

Kennedy and Albert Einstein. Students are working quietly on an independent assignment. Desks are arranged in clusters of four with students facing one another. Students are working with their table-mates on a group project. Classroom setup should be student centered. Specifics will vary from teacher to teacher and class to class, but common elements include these:. Thoughtful classroom setup and structure supports two of the four anti-bias domains: Diversity and Justice. A welcoming class space sets the tone for participatory engagement. Expectations and practices that honor diverse backgrounds also create a more just and equitable educational experience.

The audit also includes considering the types of interactions that teachers have with students and that students have with one another. Many daily tasks can be done by students who, given the opportunity, may create new and interesting ways to approach them. Real-world lessons related to work and responsibility can be reinforced in a classroom.

Classroom Management Strategies for Difficult Students

Students can apply for a position and be rewarded or promoted for a job well done. Some classroom jobs might involve passing out materials, documenting or taking notes, managing a classroom library, filing papers or helping with a bulletin board. Jobs in a responsive classroom can accommodate multiple learning styles such as artistic, kinesthetic and verbal.

Many teachers, especially at the elementary level, seat or group students along gender lines. However, not everyone fits traditional gender categories.


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Some students may feel they are truly a different gender than their physical bodies suggest; others might not fit neatly into either the male or female identity category. Using gender-neutral categories or allowing students to choose the group with which they identify affirms the experiences of all students. Differences shape who we are and what we know.

Life, history, society and power cannot be understood from a single perspective; we need multiple viewpoints to truly see the world. Because of this, inclusive classrooms must function as learning communities built on shared inquiry and dialogue. Dialogue is more than conversation. It is also different than debate, in which someone wins and someone loses. Dialogue requires openness to new ideas and collective learning.

This is not an easy practice; for students and teachers to engage in dialogue, they must build and exercise specific skills:. Shared inquiry and dialogue support two of the four anti-bias domains: Diversity and Action. Building the skills necessary to explore multiple perspectives fosters critical thinking, complex textual understanding and appreciation for diversity. Dialogue also supports active listening, respectful sharing and conflict resolution. A culture of shared inquiry offers a lived example of meaningful collaborative work and a model for community building. Because many students experience classrooms that do not value shared inquiry and dialogue, it is important for teachers to create a safe environment before asking students to engage in this work.

Active listening is a way of hearing and responding to another person that requires the listener to stop thinking about his or her own ideas and focus on the speaker. Active listening behavior includes asking good questions, listening without judgment and paraphrasing. These behaviors can be modeled through the use of talking circles or ordered sharing.

Short practice activities can also strengthen active listening skills. To most teachers, class participation means contributing to discussions, volunteering to answer questions or otherwise engaging in verbal exchanges. The teaching practices the teacher adopts in the classroom are key. Approaches to teaching that foster belonging include:. Importantly, some groups of students may feel lower levels of belonging. For example, students from an immigrant background have more positive attitudes and greater academic motivation if their teachers care about them, give academic feedback and guidance, and help them when necessary.

Read more: Inclusive education means all children are included in every way, not just in theory. Research suggests school strategies that increase a sense of belonging in at-risk students could reduce school drop-out rates and lead to improved academic achievement. Screen music and the question of originality - Miguel Mera — London, Islington. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. A low sense of belonging is associated with negative behaviours including misbehaviour, drug and alcohol use at school, violence and dropping out of school.

Megan Pedler , Southern Cross University. ACER stated : While the majority of Australian students feel a sense of belonging at school, there is a solid core of students who do not feel this way — roughly one in five, or five students in the average classroom.

Read more: Many Australian school students feel they 'don't belong' in school: new research Prioritising belonging within school culture is essential. What is a sense of belonging and is it important?

Tips for Teaching Kindness

Read more: School engagement predicts success later in life A low sense of belonging is associated with negative, possibly antisocial or delinquent, behaviours. Teachers and schools must plan for at-risk students Importantly, some groups of students may feel lower levels of belonging. Read more: Inclusive education means all children are included in every way, not just in theory Research suggests school strategies that increase a sense of belonging in at-risk students could reduce school drop-out rates and lead to improved academic achievement.

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