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CREATING A SENSE OF BELONGING AS A CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

CREATING A SENSE OF BELONGING AS A CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

Classroom Management Strategies

Part 1: Belonging

In the previous article we introduced you to William Glasser’s four basic needs.  If you feel the need for better classroom management strategies then the first place to look for answers is the area of belonging.  Many psychologists over the years (Skinner, Maslow, Adler) have placed the bulk of the blame for school failure on an unsatisfied need to belong.  We all have the need to belong, whether it is to family, a team, club or class.  When this need is not satisfied various forms of failure result.

Nine Classroom Management Strategies to Develop

a Sense of Belonging

We cannot exercise any control over what happens outside of school but within the classroom we can ensure that each student has a sense of connectedness to the teacher, other students, and the school community.  The critical first step in satisfying the need to belong is to develop a strong student-teacher bond.

  1. As a teacher you must realize that this is not a one shot quick fix situation.  You may need to persevere for many weeks and months to even establish the first vestige of a positive relationship.
  2. Have a warm, personal greeting for each student at the beginning of the day (How did the game go last night?  Did you see … on TV last night?) and a farewell at the end.  Try to find out what the student does between the time he leaves school and when he returns.  Does he/she enjoy a sport, work on cars, read science fiction, play a video game, live on-line?
  3. You will want to reduce the power differential.  Your student has probably experienced a sense of powerlessness at school in the past.  Try self disclosure.  Talk about your own interests and in so doing perhaps hit on some common ground.
  4. Be unobtrusive in assisting this student.  Don’t visit him/her first.  That’s a sure sign to others that this person is not smart enough to do the work.  Talk to your students about things other than what they are working on as you circulate through the class.
  5. Have your students working collaboratively as often as possible.  Insure that this student gets to work with different groups and that the activities often have an element that he/she is particularly good at so his/her expertise will be sought after.
  6. Display everyone’s work, give everyone a chance to perform if they are competent in that area and feel comfortable.  If they are neither competent nor comfortable offer to give them extra assistance to help them reach that point.
  7. Get everyone in your class involved in some form of extra curricular activity outside of the classroom at some point during the year.  Learn what they enjoy and are good at and get them involved.
  8. Seek each student out while they participate in activities outside the classroom and let them know you are there and encourage them in what they are doing.
  9. If possible set up some cross grade tutoring so that this student can work with a younger student helping them with an area with which they are experiencing difficulty.  A little healthy hero worship may develop a legitimate, well deserved ego boost.

The best classroom management strategy involves developing a sense of belonging in every student.  If you can do this  classroom management will no longer be a problem.  When you couple this with having fun, freedom and power you will have a dynamic classroom.

Take a look at this video to hear a little more about the importance of developing that sense of belonging among your students.

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Comments

  • Amanda Brady
    September 3, 2012

    I notice these tips usually relate to a primary class situation where the teacher has extended periods of time over which to develop the relationship. I teach in a secondary college. I am battling to create that sense of belonging in one senior class, specifically a Year 11 class. The problem relates to an ongoing problem of students speaking when I am trying to teach. I don’t mind if they chat when they are working but I do not want to have to raise my voice so some students can hear me to then have the students who have talked all through what I am saying asking what they are supposed to be doing. The response I often get is “but we are talking about the work.” I usually wait until the room is quiet again before I start teaching again but twice I have had enough and said exactly that “enough!” Any tips for me?

    • Wayne
      September 4, 2012

      Hi Amanda, your concern is a very common one. Are the students enthusiastic or disrespectful? Probably both are true. Waiting for everyone to be listening works, but you don’t want to be using it all the time. Have you tried having an outline on the board when the students arrive so that they can see what you are going to cover. This helps the more “active” groups to be able to see how much longer it will be before they can chat and work. You might also want to create two columns, one with what you will be doing and beside it what you will have the students do. First I will do this, THEN you will do that. Shorter listening sessions might make them more willing to close their books and sit quietly if they know they it will only be for five minutes. The social aspect of school is very important for this age group so we have to do our best to work with the reality. One part me talking and two parts the students talking may work for them. If you haven’t already done this, give it a try. I hope it helps. Let me know how you make out. Wayne

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