Magazine article AMLE Magazine

In Every Issue: MENTOR ME

Magazine article AMLE Magazine

In Every Issue: MENTOR ME

Article excerpt

Developing and maintaining a positive, safe learning environment and community is essential during the middle school years. The young adolescents we work with are diverse in many ways. Their diverse views, cultures, races, religions, family structures, and assets highlight the important need to establish a classroom community that is inclusive and positively supports all young adolescents.

In addition to your responsibilities in helping students develop academic knowledge, you are tasked with creating the foundation for a positive learning environment, promoting collaborative relationships, and addressing the social, emotional, and physical needs of young adolescents. Developing community with and among students is one way in which middle school teachers accomplish many of these goals.

Below are suggestions to help you create and sustain community with students:

Set norms using a community agreement approach. Successful classrooms need boundaries. Boundaries are important, necessary, and generally welcomed by your students. One way to set boundaries that help to build community is to use an approach that respects and requires the input of all involved-all students, and you, the teacher.

Consider using a norm-setting approach that involves community agreements. Classroom members brainstorm, discuss, and agree upon the norms that are conducive to positive interactions and productive learning in the classroom. The teacher facilitates the conversation, yet students need to participate in this process.

Lead a revision segment to narrow down the community agreements to those that are meaningful and vital. …

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