Learning is more likely to happen when students experience joy and connection in the classroom and school environment. Teachers can help to counteract stress, conflict, and anxiety by building relationships and cultivating joy. Here are some ideas.
- Make school spaces inviting. Set up the space to allow students opportunities to connect with each other, self-regulate when necessary, and see themselves in the room. Keep in mind the sensory needs of all students by not overwhelming the space with too much stuff or color.
- Create opportunities to have fun together. Talk about the classroom as a family. Just like a family we don’t get to choose who is in it but together we can help each other be better. Make time for games or fun questions that students can use to learn about each other while having a good time.
- Get outside when possible. Take a walk around the playground for a self-regulation break, teach a lesson or having reading time outdoors.
- Reflect on a great moment. During a group or circle time have students share one great moment from the day or week.
- Use creativity. Allow students to do art or music along with content area subject.
- Invite discovery. Learning is more fun when you can figure things out for yourself. Step aside from being the expert.
- Be curious and wonder with your students. Learn with and from them.
- Deepen student relationships. Being in relationships helps us learn and feel better about ourselves. Make sure students to get to know each other. Having time to share about interests or interview each other builds community.
- Contribute to the community. Share gratitude for the community through social action projects. This brings both a sense of connection and satisfaction. Your students could try a 10 day “random act of kindness” challenge, making a get-well kits for students who are ill or create a system for welcoming new students to the school. When their actions make a day better for someone else, they gain a sense of belonging and that their contributions matter.