Coincidence or not, on Friday I pulled my kids together to talk community building and all things family. I have always been so big on building community in the classroom, whether it be through morning meetings or at random times throughout the year when I feel like my kids need it. Many of us do it those first weeks of school, but then forget about it all year long.
In retrospect, I'm so glad I did this on Friday. Who would have thought we'd have to come in on Monday with such heavy hearts. The theme behind this community building activity was respect. There really was no purpose behind it, and I didn't come to the table bringing my dog and pony show. Sometimes, the best community builders are the ones when you just get to sit and talk with your kids.
We started with this anchor chart to get the conversation started:
**Side note: I must show a close up, because one of my sweet boys insisted he do the art work. I happily obliged as I am the WORST drawer!
Isn't that the cutest?!
We talked about what respect was, and how you can show respect throughout the day. It was interesting to hear many of them and their thoughts on respect. A lot of students thought it was grouped with just being kind, but we talked about the fact that it is so much more than that. The conversations were wonderful and many students were even pulling examples from their real life.
I then handed out this page below, which you can grab for free HERE!!
I had the students work with 1 to 2 people that they have NEVER worked with before (of course I walked around and broke up the "friends"). I encouraged groups of students that I know don't often hang out with one another.
After students had the opportunity to discuss their ideas with their small groups and the whole class, we wrapped up the discussion by reading some short stories from Chicken Soup for the Kids Soul:
Other books that are wonderful for teaching about respect are:
The sweetest thing ever came when we were getting ready to go home that evening. Many of my students kindly asked for some construction paper, because they wanted to go home and decorate posters to hang throughout our school. :)
"As a teacher, there is an unspoken understanding that once those children enter my classroom, I become their 'substitute mother'. I am responsible for each child in my classroom. I push them to do their best. I encourage them to work hard. I praise them endlessly and scold them when they need it. I expect them to show their manners. I teach them how to get along with others. I give them hugs when they are hurt, when they do something I am proud of, or 'just because'."
Her words were absolutely perfect, and I couldn't have said them any better than she did. Whether you are teaching fifth graders or first graders, we are mothers (and fathers). Teaching our children respect is a hugely important lesson that they will hopefully carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Click HERE for more community building ideas!