One way to develop a positive learning community is by creating norms considering the classroom's four relational elements: learner-learner, learner-teacher, teacher-learner, and learner-self. This is a step to humanizing the classroom and ensuring everyone's voice is valued. When a student feels that their voice is valued, it builds trust. And trust is critical to connection and a strong relationship.
Other ideas for building connections include participating in events important to students, families, and the community and sharing and celebrating classroom successes. Also, I have found that students will test you in multiple ways to evaluate if you are the type of educator that follows through with what you say. So, say what you mean and mean what you say at all educational levels. I am just as much a part of the learning community as the students are, and I must also live by the classroom norms. I let my students know they need to hold me accountable to these norms just as much as they hold each other accountable. I create learning partnerships with my students to enhance the learning community.
So, what small acts do you integrate into your classroom to build a positive learning community? I am an advocate for engaging in reflective practice. In the spirit of reflecting, write down ways to connect with your students, families, colleagues, or the community you work with. Consider adding one new way to connect; try something different this year. And do not forget, take time to celebrate yourself and the work you do!