8 Strategies For Building Classroom Community

back to school community building activities

There is nothing more important to plan for your students during the first few weeks of school, than planning to build your classroom community. Building a strong classroom community takes thoughtful preparation and consistent implementing. A quick activity or two during the first few weeks of school is not enough to build a positive classroom environment. To build a classroom atmosphere where students feel safe to take risks and feel a sense of belonging takes many carefully planned activities and lessons, as well as the use of repeated language and clear expectations on a daily basis throughout the year. Although the activities you create can vary year to year based on your students’ interests and needs, these 8 strategies will help get you started to build a safe and positive community in your classroom from the first day of school until the last.

Have a Class Theme Song

back to school community bulding activitiesI love having a class theme song each year! It is such an instant bonding activity, connecting all the students together. The class theme song is presented to the students with the concept that the lyrics and music would represent our class. Just as the instruments and lyrics come together to produce harmony in the song, all of the students can come together to create a class in harmony. We spend some time
discussing what a class in perfect harmony would look and sound like. There are
two ways that I have selected theme songs with my students. Some years I have predetermined the theme song and then together as a class, we have analyzed the lyrics, discussing why it would be a good theme song. Then I let the students give me the final OK on the song that I selected. They always OK it and then instant buy in! Other years, when my students were more mature to select an appropriate theme song, I have allowed them each to come in with suggestions that would fit our classroom and the concept of a class in perfect harmony. Students submit ideas, anonymously, then the class votes to select one. We play our theme song every day in one way or another: entry to the classroom, calm down after recess, during dismissal or just upon request. It is also a great go-to for background music for class videos or performances. The kids love to sing it together and it really connects us all! Grab this activity and coordinating bulletin board set HERE

Set Clear Classroom Rules and Expectations

back to school community building activitiesWe all know that classroom rules and expectations are a must, but be sure to not just slap your rules on the wall. Take the time during the first day of school to create classroom rules together. The rules the kids come up with will usually always mirror the rules you have created. When students see the classroom expectations in their language they will have more buy-in and are more likely to follow them. Of course, throw in some clear language and expectations if the students need guidance. I keep my classroom expectation list pretty short, no more than six. I like to make sure one of the expectations is “Use appropriate classroom behavior” as that one is the umbrella rule that covers just about everything. Other than that, let your students have a voice in what the classroom expectations should be! We also have a classroom pledge that we say each day during our morning meeting. We all love saying our pledge together. It is a great reminder of expectations and a reminder that we are in it together as a community. The pledge is posted in our classroom and after a few days, the children have it memorized. We can refer back to it during the day if anyone gets off track and needs a reminder of how we work and treat each other in our classroom.

Teach Students How to Be Active Listeners

back to school community building activities
Activities that foster active listening and communication are a must throughout the entire school year. These important skills are needed by the students not only for group and partner work in the classroom but anywhere they interact with others. Being a good listener can help with conflict resolution, especially during down times like recess and on the buses. Right from the start of the year, we discuss the ABCs of active listening and then put them into action with role-playing activities. A simple way to practice these is to create a list of “problems” that the students have faced in the past (arguments over who won a game, copied an idea or took someone’s supplies to name a few) and assign roles for each scenario. Students use the strategies discussed in the poster and our discussion to help them be an active listener and resolve the problem. With consistent practice and reinforcement of these steps, students will be active listening in no time! Grab ABCs of Active Listening poster for FREE at the bottom of this post.

Practice Effective Communication

back to school community building activitiesNow that you have gone over how to be an active listener, have your students put those skills to work with communication activities! Two activities that are fun and effective to do at the beginning of the year to illustrate how important communication is are the “Paperclip Challenge and “Draw It”.  The concept of both is simple. One student creates a design without the other student seeing it and gives directions to help that student recreate that design. The student giving directions must give clear, specific, sequential directions to communicate effectively to help their partner, while the student listening to the directions must practice the all-important active listening skills that were discussed in class. Have each student take turns being the giver of directions and the receiver of directions. Grab student directions and templates for these activities for FREE at the bottom of this post.
TEACHER TIP: KEEP IT GOING! Try playing classic games like telephone, charades, and twenty questions during down times to continue practicing effective communication all year long.

Encourage Student Collaboration and Discourse

back to school community building activities
Working together collaboratively is a skill that must be taught, practiced and monitored. No matter what grade you teach, students always benefit from the practice of taking turns speaking during a discussion.  Once students have understood how important active listening and clear communication is, they are on their way to working collaboratively. One strategy that always works well to encourage collaboration with my students each year is our “Two Cents” cups. It is really easy to make these cups, yet the value is immeasurable. Grab some cups, I use plastic or paper and attach the two cents labels. Explain the meaning behind the phrase “Put Your Two Cents In”. In a nutshell, it means to share your opinion or thoughts. In the cup, place two pennies for each student in the group. (I use real pennies. I have found the plastic ones to bounce around when they fall on the ground. The kids take better care of the real pennies, too.) Each student grabs two pennies from the cup. Each time they contribute to the discussion or activity they place a penny in the cup. No student can share more than two times until each student has put “their two cents in”. This works wonders for collaboration. It encourages participation from quiet students and keeps other students from taking over the conversation or work. As the year goes on, you will find most students don’t actually need the pennies anymore and instead, just use the language of “put your two cents in” to each other when they are working. Grab cup labels to try out this idea for FREE at the bottom of this post.

Foster Kindness in Your Classroom

8 Strategies to Build a Strong Classroom CommunityEncouraging authentic acts of kindness in my classroom is a yearlong theme. It is also a great way for the students to build relationships with one another. Modeling kindness is key to getting your students to being kind themselves. Once my students understood our classroom community is based on kindness, I introduce our monthly Random Acts of Kindness Calendar. After I complete a September RAK calendar, I share it with the students, encouraging them to check the calendar each day with “suggested” ways to be kind. As the month continues we check in on our progress during our morning meeting to see what acts of kindness were carried out and how it went. Before October begins, students work in pairs to create a RAK calendar. Each pair work on a calendar for a different month. When each pair of students are done, we have a yearlong RAK calendar to display and carry out in our classroom. The kids always love creating the calendars and looked forward to seeing each month’s ideas. Scoop up this calendar set for FREE HERE.
8 Strategies to Build a Strong Classroom CommunityAs the year rolls on, we continue to build our classroom community with positivity and strengthen our relationships in authentic ways. Sometimes a little reminder of how to make someone smile is in order, too! Each month we dedicate one writing period to making someone’s day a little brighter. Names are randomly drawn from a bowl and students write letters, poems or create illustrations about one of their classmates. This small gesture helps the creator feel good about making someone else’s day better and the receiver feel appreciated and part of our classroom community. Towards the end of the period, a student is selected to share what they wrote and deliver it to the receiver. Then the receiver shares their letter until all letters are shared. This simple monthly activity is a great way for each and every student to feel a sense of belonging and a valued member of our community. It is a great self-esteem builder, too! Students beam so brightly when they receive these little letters of appreciation. See a structured format for this monthly activity HERE.

Have High Expectations

back to school community building
A true classroom community continues in a positive way even without the teacher. By having students build strong relationships with one another and creating a strong classroom community, the students can thrive on their own without the teacher present. To encourage this, of course, a little incentive goes a long way. An easy way to do have students maintain classroom expectations and relationships with you are away is by using a mystery surprise. Grab a mini whiteboard and add ten dashes. Each time the students get a compliment from a special area teacher, add a letter to build up to the words: We Did It! When all the letters are filled in, the students can earn any surprise you want. Easy, no cost prizes could include extra recess, no homework, game time (a simple game of hangman with class vocabulary words is always fun!) or sit next to your friend day. This is also a great motivator for students when there will be a sub or guest teacher in your classroom. By offering this small and simple incentive, students truly have to work together to earn it, strengthening the relationships that you are nurturing. Click HERE to read about how I teach students to make good decisions and grab a FREE decision making lesson to kick off the school year!

Remember that by building relationships, setting classroom expectations, and consistently nurturing these expectations throughout the school year is the best way to create, build and maintain a positive classroom environment.

You might also be interested in these kindness and empathy classroom posters to kick off community building discussions in your classroom this school year:
building strong classroom community

*Affiliate links included.

Pin for later!

how to Build Classroom Community




  1. Love the concept of putting your two cents in. I'm going to implement that in my 4-6 ELA gifted classroom. Thank you for the resource.

  2. While the basic reason for team building is to build up a more compelling work gathering, the particular motivations behind the procedure will depend to a great extent upon the evaluation of data accumulated amid the underlying information accumulation stage. training room rental

  3. Over the course of my life I have had some really fantastic teachers. This includes not only formal classroom teachers but also informal who have passed on their knowledge grammar-checker

  4. Different articles in the nearby paper convey reports of the expanded interests and energies being used by the "little" individuals to end the up and coming risk of our own administration by the expanding attack of our private rights for the sake of shielding the individuals from inside fear mongering.
    online ijazah course

  5. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info. Bondage

  6. Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing... הסכם עבודה עם קבלן מפתח

  7. Rymden 77 By QHS. Hotline 61009266. Get Discounts, Direct Developer Price, Brochure, Floor Plan, Price List & More. Upcoming Freehold New Launch at Telok Kurau. Rymden 77

  8. In my previous article Scaling Drupal, I discussed the concept of SCS (Sites Community Server)* but my main focus was the application of the concept in the field of scalability, real-time performance and IR (intelligent Replication) where DCMS (drupal Cluster management server) playing dual role as Sites Community Server and Cluster Server but in today's article I would primarily focus on SC (Sites Community). To help readers understand the model clearly I would again be using SCS (Sites Community Server)* to illustrate some practical applications. SCs can be thought of a content sharing platform where different sites can share content with other sites but as we know most of these sites have their own unique content schema and it evolves independently of any other site. In order to effectively share the contents there has to be a CS (common schema) across the community. 안전놀이터

  9. This is a brilliant blog! I'm very happy with the comments!.. בניית בתים פרטיים

  10. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely helpful for me. Edward Rainey Renwick

  11. The lack of a national standard combined with increasing public demand has led some companies to falsely claim their buildings are green. In some cases the building designer has not considered sustainability at all. building design northern beaches

  12. For proprietor builder financing endorsement, you are fundamentally meeting all requirements for the end advance, this is the thing that makes the development advance conceivable. London builders

  13. Architectural design northern beaches Notwithstanding carrying on with an extremely laid-back way of life, you likewise get the chance to appreciate a perspective on the water for a significant distance around, a thoroughly loosening up try you wouldn't have any desire to pass up.

  14. Angeles development specialists are much of the time approached whether building licenses are required for each renovating or home improvement venture. In all actuality numerous development ventures require a structure license in Los Angeles, however more modest tasks don't need a grant. Residential Permit

  15. That incorporates recording, charge installment, building permit and printing off your building permit - all from home!

  16. What a thoughtful strategies you delivered here for us. To build strong classroom surely is not an easy task. But I was much pleased seeing that you made the issue very easy and significant. Love your ideas and demonstrations. I wanted to learn about commercial permit
    for building constriction, but really pleased to go through this wonderful article.


Back to Top