In 10 Ways to Build Team Classroom from Cool Cat Teacher Blog, Vicki Davis talks about teaching her class to be a team. She says,
“When you build team classroom, you unleash a giant. Your class can learn more, grasp more, and move faster. Students learn to appreciate each other’s strengths and work together.”
I try to teach my class that together we are a family. Just as in our own families, we don’t get to pick the ones who belong and neither do we in our classroom. Yet, here we all are. I know they all might not like each other but sometimes in families, we don’t necessarily like each other at times. Even so, we stick together when it is the right thing to do.
For my students with special needs, socializing is really hard with other students so they need to be each other’s friends when no one else will be their friend. It keeps students from being lonely and I know many of them feel this way, especially during teenage years. Teenagers are so hard trying to be “normal,” whatever that is, so it is really hard when you are different. By being part of a group, a student’s differentness doesn’t stand out.
Some of my students also face a lot of bullying. When students stick together, it is usually harder for a bully to be effective. I tell my students that they need to watch out for each other. I remember my mother telling me this about my sisters and I wanted my class to feel the same way. When someone is bothering a fellow classmate, it is important to stand by him or her so they are not facing this alone. You would want someone standing by you during troubling times so do the right thing. It only takes one time for them to see that I’m right.
I also want my students to watch out for each other and encourage them to do the right thing. Sometimes it is hard to make the right choice, but if my students know that their classmate is watching and hoping that they do the right thing, it is easier. Sometimes the general education student thinks it is fun to get a special education student in trouble, so they pick on the weaker students. I want my stronger students to step in and keep the weaker classmate from getting into trouble or at least come tell me what is going on.
I introduce this lesson by showing my class some fiber that I spin. When there is only 1 strand, it is weaker and can break. When I ply 2 strands together, it is stronger and harder to break. The more strands I add to it, the stronger it becomes. This is the same way in our class and we need to stick together.
When I see evidence of my students sticking together, I try to let them know that I notice it and I’m proud of them. The more I recognize it, the harder they try to do this.
How do you get your students to stick together? Please share.