Turning a classroom into a successful and productive learning environment isn’t done through just one thing, but there is one thing that I’ve seen affect it more than most: helping my students build up stronger relationships with each other. These relationships will turn a classroom full of individual students into a supportive family, one where students can be found helping one another and celebrating each other’s accomplishments on a daily basis.
There are two “big ideas” that have worked for me and I hope will for you too: The Shout Out Door and a Book Recommendation area.
At the Shout Out door students can post a sticky note to someone in our class thanking them for something or complimenting them. While this seems like a simple activity it is one students LOVE. You know how they say that it’s better to give a gift than to receive? I see that every day with the Shout Out door, where the students who give the shout outs get a boost of positive energy just as much as those who get them.
My second suggestion is the Book Recommendation area, which allows students to share about books they have recently read and loved. Students can complete a form recommending why another student should read their book and place it on the wall for another student to come get. This has proven to be a great way to get students to share with each other all while building their love for books.
These two, simple (and fun!) ways have helped set up a foundation of positive and respectful interactions among my students – which has helped us all achieve greater success as a team this year.
For more details on Kayla’s Shout Out door or Book Recommendation area you can follow her on Twitter: @knhartsfield.
Kayla Hartsfield is a third grade literacy teacher at Lake Hamilton Elementary School in Hot Springs, Arkansas.