The Importance of “Belonging” in a Classroom
Classrooms should be built on the philosophy that everyone is equal and everyone belongs. This includes caring for one another, implementing safe behaviour and actions toward one another, supporting one another, helping one another, and tolerating one another. By encouraging your students to treat others the way they would like to be treated, your classroom can be transformed into a cooperative and honest environment, suitable for learning. By creating an inclusive classroom that fosters great morals and a sense of belonging, students can find confidence in themselves and, in turn, have a healthier learning experience. Below is an activity that can be adapted to fit any grade level.
Introducing and implementing “belonging” in your classroom.
1. With your students, brainstorm what it means to “belong.” Begin with an inclusive brainstorm with all of the students and write it on the board. Then have your students individually write down on a piece of paper what they think it means to “belong.”
2. Have your students then reflect individually on where they feel like they belong and where they feel they don’t belong.
Ex. A place where I belong is __________________________________
A place where I don’t belong is ______________________________
3. Then, as a group, come up with answers to the following questions:
(1) What does a classroom where all kids belong look like, sound like, and feel like?
(2) What does a classroom where kids do not belong look like, sound like, and feel like?
This can be presented in chart form on the board so that students can see it, hear it, and think about it.
4. Ask students to reflect on times they were included, when they didn’t belong, when they saw someone else not included, or when they didn’t include someone. After giving them time to think about it, bring the class together and discuss how these ideas can be put into action and made better.
The preceding was adapted from Learning in Safe Schools by Faye Brownlie and Judith King, published by Pembroke Publishers.