Thursday, December 10, 2009


I've been reflecting on the importance of inspiring a sense of community and responsibility towards the group in the children at school. I'm interested in presenting or bringing to the children's attention a grace and courtesy lesson, book or true story daily that meditates on some aspect of life as part of a group. Or finding further ways of incorporating this idea into our daily routine.

I often feel like I'd like to emphasize the ideas of helpfulness/community/respect/generosity/kindness, but sometimes find the topics too daunting or too vague to approach practically.

Specific activities we do already to inspire a sense of community:

- We have times during the week when we all sit together and children have the opportunity to share something they brought from home or tell a story about something related to their home.

- At some point in the mornings we come together as a group and sing a song and recognize the absence of whoever is not at school that day. (To emphasize that even though you are not there, you are still a part of the group)

- At lunch we join hands and sing a "Community Song" before we eat.

- We have a set of "Community cards" that have a picture and the name of all the children and staff members of our school. We use them on special occasions (birthdays, important gatherings) and they are available for the children to look at individually as well. (They live on the peace shelf)

Things I'd like to do more of:

- Involve the children as a group in problem solving or decision making related to our life together in the classroom.

- Find books, and tell true stories related to life together as a group.

- Reflect back to the children verbally more of what I see that is positive about our day together in the classroom.

- Start a "heart journal" where anyone can write something positive that happened to them that day and read the entries at the end of the week.

I'd greatly appreciate any ideas/feedback on further ways of incorporating a sense of community in our daily routine!


P.S. Montessori said...

I love the idea of Community Cards. Can you expand on how you use them for birthdays and special occasions?

Montessori Moments said...

I love what you are already doing to inspire a sense of community.
I LOVE your blog and LOVE your beautiful classroom!
You inspire me...

Laura S. said...

We sometimes will reflect together - I'll ask, can you think for a moment and raise your hand if you can think of something you did today to help someone else? Or we might ask for suggestions: what can we do to make sure we have a peaceful classroom?

Susanne said...

Hi PS! For special occasions I will take out the cards one by one and lay them out in a circle. The children that are not there, and the staff that's not present are then represented by their card- and I mention this. Not much more than that.

The children love to take them from the shelf and look at them. A five year old this year wanted to make her own set and drew the people in the cards and wrote their names.

I use them to give visual cues of ways in which the children are sorted during the day- for example to highlight the 2 groups for yoga class.

They are also formatted like the classification cards, so they can be used for matching pictures with names and then corrected with the third set.

I think they're pretty useful.

Thanks for your comment!


Susanne said...

Hello Laura,

I really like the idea of the open ended questions about how to make the classroom a better place.

Thanks for your comment.


eyesonnature - Anja said...

Besides shaking the hand of the teacher upon entering the classroom, the children sit down in a circle before we start the workcycle. The teacher then shakes the hand of the child sitting on the left saying "Goodmorning Johnny". This child then turns to the child on his/her left and shakes hand and says "Goodmorning Laura" and Laura will say "Goodmorning Johnny" and turn to the child next to her left etc. This greeting continues all the way around the circle until the "handshake" arrives back at the teacher. We use greetings from other countries like "Goedemorgen xxx". This way all children are acknowledged before we start our workcycle. It requires grace and courtesy, stillness and silence and discipline as the children have to look at and listen to each other.

Ella said...

I think the Community cards are great! I have had them in the past but have not included school staff. What other items/lessons live on your peace shelf? Thanks for the inspiration!

Joy Ridgway said...

Stephen Covey recently wrote a fantastic book called The Leader In Me, which showed the transformations that happened to the kids in one (public) school when they made the '7 habits of highly effective people' at the core of what they do/teach/say. The kids developed a genuine love and respect for themselves, their school, the town, and the world at large. He gave some really concrete practices/applications in the book that I found inspiring and useful. You may want to look into it, I can't recommend it highly enough!

Honey said...

Any chance you'd do a photo montage of the classrooms? I saw the handmade posters of France & England & I'd love to see more of how the rooms are setup.