Class Meetings: Building a Classroom Community
Encouraging students to be respectful, empathetic & engaged
Sometimes I find it hard to believe that as educators there’s any time left during the day to teach “The 3 Rs” (… but somehow we manage to do it). As someone who has been teaching for 16 years now I find that we are required to cover so much more in the classroom than ever before. Outside of the “3 Rs” we address social/cultural awareness, world issues, character building, issues around “bullying”, social skills, fundraising, problem solving, etc. … and it’s all so very important! Speaking as someone who wants to do her best to “address it all” – to meet the needs of all students – I have found a way that works best for me. I set aside 40 minutes of class time (last period every Friday) every week to hold Class Meetings.
Class Meetings are just that. A time for students to sit and discuss issues that speak to them. They are student directed and teacher facilitated. The agenda is set by the group and depends on the group’s various interests, needs and concerns at any one time.
Note: I always have – in my back pocket – a drama activity related to a theme (e.g. problem-solving, conflict management, friendship, etc.) “just in case” we run out of things to say (which hardly ever happens).
Class meetings are about …
- … trust
- … communication – giving students a voice
- … community building
- … authentic problem-solving
- … constructive decision-making
Class meetings encourage the development of …
- … personal & social awareness
- … trust & respect
- … active listening skills
- … effective speaking skills
- … empathy & understanding
- … an awareness of cause & effect
- … problem solving skills
- … friendships, of a class community
- … social responsibility
Class meetings encourage students to feel …