Build a classroom community

A positive, supportive student community is essential to successful risk-taking

Photo of Becky Leff
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Building a positive community in a class is essential to creating an environment where children feel comfortable enough to take the risks necessary for real innovation and creativity. We have used the Positive Discipline program, particularly weekly class meetings, to create a supportive, inclusive community. 


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Photo of Michael Schurr

Hi Becky, how are you? I think you are onto a great idea here and the comments below have really started to frame it out in more detail. We would love for you to share it in the ideate phase.

A couple of questions that might help frame out this idea:
What’s this idea about?
Why is this an idea that creates a culture of innovation?
How would you pitch this to other teachers in your school? Your principal?
How’d you get this idea off the ground?

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or want to talk the idea out in more detail!

Photo of Becky Leff

Thanks, Michael! Here are my thoughts - your feedback would be welcome.
There can be no productive collaboration or innovation without a nonjudgmental, supportive environment. Many students will not share if they fear their ideas will be shot down. This is why building a positive, inclusive classroom community where all students feel comfortable bringing up problems and ideas is essential for nurturing the risk-taking inherent in innovation. An effective way to create this type of community is with regular class meetings. I have seen this in my class and my partner class over the past two years, using the Positive Discipline model.
Positive Discipline lays out a meeting plan, with lessons leading up to regular meetings. Students can bring up any problem or idea by putting it on the agenda, and students are empowered by the meeting structure and teacher guidance to work as a team to solve problems.
Ideally, meetings are held once a week for about 30 minutes, at the same time each week. Some teachers feel this is not a productive use of class time, but we have found that it builds a strong community in which students stick up for each other, and provides a place for children to "park" their issues, knowing that we will discuss them. They learn to listen to each other, which they then do when brainstorming and collaborating. They are respectful of each others' ideas and ways of expressing themselves.
Start this at the beginning of the school year to set the stage for everything you want to accomplish.

Photo of Michael Schurr

Becky, this is great! Would you be willing to take your thoughts and share them as a new post in the ideate phase?

Photo of Becky Leff

Yes, I will do that today. Thank you for the feedback - I wasn't sure exactly what to do with the idea.

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