Put yourself in the shoes of your students. Do you remember what it felt like to walk into a new classroom with a new teacher and new classmates? It's scary for some, exciting for others, but inevitable for every student as they seek to find their place in this little world of theirs. Many of us can think of at least one friend from school that has lasted the test of time and now these students just recently walked into a classroom with the potential to meet their best friend. As a teacher, you have the opportunity to help forge these relationships, and here are some ways to do just that.
1. Allow Space for Conversation
Of course, getting through your lesson plans for the day is always important. However, as things are getting started at the beginning of the school year, create opportunities for your students to participate in conversations with other students within the class. This often works best by having some form of structured activity for the class, followed by some downtime for students to talk after completing the activity.
2. Discuss Friendship
Encourage your students to consider what friendship means to them personally. This will help them think about the benefits of friendship and the value it has both personally and in the classroom. This discussion can also bring up opportunities to discuss how it feels to be left out, encouraging students to be more inclusive to their classmates.
3. Create Compliment Worksheets
This is a fun activity to help boost confidence and give students the ability to share what they like about their classmates. Provide your students with a list of their classmate's names and have them write something positive they like or noticed about each of their classmates. Collect this assignment and create separate sheets for each student that lists all of the nice things written about him or her, then gift it to each student. You would be surprised how many students keep that worksheet and cherish it for years to come.
4. Identify Interests
Most friendships are built on some kind of common ground whether it be sports, music, art, or other hobbies. To help promote friendships in the classroom, organize an activity in which students get to share their interests and hobbies. After the activity, leave a little bit of time for students to talk to each other and watch friendships form!
5. Encourage Friendships Outside of Classroom
A friendship doesn't have to be limited to the walls of a classroom. By encouraging students to get involved in other activities, they may be able to develop even deeper friendships with classmates or even meet some other friends that may not go to the same school. There are no limits to where you can find a friend.
Have a Great School Year!
We hope that you've had a great start to the school year. We're so excited for everything that is on the horizon this year, and we know that our students are so lucky to have such incredible teachers!