Small Changes with Big Impacts on School Communities
Schools are shaped by the impact of small actions. Too often, educational practices swing back and forth dramatically to address current issues with grand gestures. However, what truly brings about meaningful, enduring change are modest, incremental adjustments. This blog post presents three practical suggestions for educators to enhance school and classroom communities, emphasizing the power of small-scale refinements.
Gibbs Smith Education's Community Stewardship Framework highlights the significance of proximity and interaction in fostering robust school and classroom communities. By establishing environments that encourage student collaboration and communication, educators create avenues for contribution and connection to thrive. Implementing regular circle discussions in the classroom, ideally daily, arranges students in a formation where everyone is equal, shares accountability for group achievements, and gains an understanding of their individual role within the larger community. Through daily circle discussions, students can feel safe to ask questions and partake in celebrations that foster a sense of belonging and acceptance.
Being part of a community does not require uniformity among its members. A vibrant community values diversity and thrives on the presence of varied individuals. The bonds that hold communities together are forged through social connections, shared dedication to collective objectives, and an atmosphere of generosity and reciprocity. Communities are not sustained by mere conformity or homogeneity, which would instead give rise to cliques that impede community development. In a functional school community, participants embrace democratic principles of shared accountability, diverse perspectives, and equal representation. Robust communities celebrate the unique strengths, talents, backgrounds, and heritages of everyone within their midst. Educators play a crucial role in this process by modeling genuine respect for diversity and creating opportunities for students to express their individuality within the community.
The term "appreciate" carries two primary meanings: (1) expressing gratitude, and (2) recognizing the value of something and enhancing it. Educators can cultivate cultural norms and values within their classrooms and schools that promote appreciation.
As a principal, I observed several teachers who encouraged their students to write "Kudos" letters to their peers, teachers, administrators, and family members within the school community. This simple yet powerful practice not only provided students with opportunities to engage in authentic writing, but also taught them to seek and acknowledge the worth of those around them. There are numerous ways to demonstrate appreciation that can be quickly incorporated into daily routines.
Educators possess the ability to initiate small refinements in their mindsets and classrooms, which can yield profound transformations that extend far beyond the boundaries of their schools. In addition to imparting academic knowledge, educators serve as influential catalysts in nurturing their students' character development and instilling a sense of service towards others. By intentionally integrating cultural and community-oriented strategies into their schools and classrooms, educators can guide students in recognizing the broader purpose and significance of education.
Gibbs Smith Education offers comprehensive professional development services for school leaders and educators, equipping them with effective strategies and a robust framework for driving cultural change within their schools. These initiatives aim to forge stronger connections, promote positive behaviors, and enhance academic achievement. For further details, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.