The new school year started on Friday. I used to find the Friday start a little odd – what was the point of just one day? – but now I really value it. In just one day you can begin to establish the foundations of a positive class community – through fun and shared experiences – without students (or teachers!) getting too weary early on. We all leave school content, have the weekend to rest and then return for our first full week, ready to sink our teeth into learning. Many students on Friday told me that they felt nervous, but excited about the day. We even coined the term, ‘nervexcited’ as a way to explain our feelings of the first day of Year 4. All those nerves and the high level of excitement take up energy, so it is lovely that students are able to get a taste of life in Year 4 before a weekend to recharge.
The first day in 4D was a high energy one, filled with lots of community building tasks such as:
- A game of ‘Categories’ (kind of like musical chairs but with different categories called out) to learn about one another and what we all got up to over the holidays.
- A couple of picture story books (‘Wherever you Go’ by Pat Zietlow Miller and, for a bit of fun, ‘Dirty Dave the Bushranger’ by Nette Hilton and Roland Harvey, a favourite of my brother’s when he was young)
- An inference game, inspired by this blog post, where the students made inferences about me, their new teacher, based on the clues in my evidence bag (What can you infer about Miss Davidson based on this hiking boot, book, dog lead etc?)
- The ‘Coded Hundred Square’ Maths challenge, which required lots of teamwork, persistence and flexible thinking.
- The ‘Spaghetti and Marshmallow Challenge’, which required even more teamwork, persistence and flexible thinking. Both these challenges gave me a fascinating insight into the teamwork skills, use of different strategies as well as each individual’s level of persistence.
But, whilst building a sense of community in the 4D classroom was awesome, my favourite part of the day was when students and parents from the last two years popped into 4D to say hi. Throughout my teaching career, whilst I have been chasing new adventures and new experiences, I’ve moved schools a lot. One of the things that I really missed was being a part of a school community. On Friday, I had the beautiful feeling of feeling really connected to the school community. It was a lovely moment, the feeling of making new connections and rekindling old connections. It makes me excited for the year ahead and I’m looking forward to maintaining that sense of connection within the community throughout the year.
How do you build a sense of community in your classroom?