Building Community for Learning
This post was written by Theresa Moore, Ph.D., Faculty Development Specialist at KCELT.
Every semester I spend a bulk of the first week of classes building community – not focused on content. This practice helps me to connect with students and build trust between me and them and among each other.
One activity I engage them in I call “Our Class Creed.” In addition to the expectations outlined in the syllabus, the students and I co-create expectations for our class.They brainstorm and then share out on sticky notes what they think should be the rules of engagement for them and also for me. I review the ideas, group them by theme, and then debrief with them about which of their ideas will be part of our code of conduct and which I ones I take the liberty to dismiss because they’re just not, well,…appropriate! This activity definitely also adds a bit of levity to the class. Here are some ideas I got this week:
Rules for THEM:
- “Respect each other.”
- “Don’t insult someone because of their opinions.”
- “Do not seclude anyone due to race, sex, orientation. Grow up this is 2017!”
And then there was…
- “Do not show up high.”
- “We should be able to nap for 20 minutes if we are tired.”
Rules for ME:
- “Have patience and be understanding.”
- “Make it clear what the homework is.”
- “Do different teaching methods”
- “Listen to our thoughts and ideas.”
- “Be dope.”
- “Enjoy life man, and be glad that the world is happening.”
- “Buy new Rubix cubes.” (NOTE: I have a caddy at every table, and just one of them has a Rubrics Cube…I guess the Cube has made a comeback!)
I encourage every faculty member to take time to get to know their students and build community while the semester is new. Take time to laugh with them. Be sure to contact anyone at KCELT to get started on co-designing some great activities for your classroom.
I received my Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Teaching and Learning from the University of California, Santa Barbara and I am proud to say that I have several years of experience in faculty development, team leadership, and classroom teaching.
I am always inspired when I revisit this quote:
“If we want to grow as teachers – we must do something alien to academic culture: we must talk to each other about our inner lives – risky stuff in a profession that fears the personal and seeks safety in the technical, the distant, the abstract.” ¯ Parker J. Palmer
2 thoughts on “Building Community for Learning”
Thanks for sharing! I find it so helpful when specific examples are shared as to how to connect with students instead of just stating that connecting with students is important. I like this idea!
Thanks, Christi! I am always happy to share and encourage all faculty to do the same so that we can learn from each other. We can all grow from each others’ strengths, for sure. 🙂 If you try this technique out in a class, please let me know how it goes!