When we talk about building community, we are really referring to ways to help everyone in your classroom feel safe, welcome, happy and appreciated. (That includes you!). The best ways to do this include a mixture of getting to know everyone and getting to know routines and expectations because children learn best when they know what is expected of them and what to expect in their day, as well as that wonderful feeling of being accepted. Maslow (1943) first introduced us to the Hierarchy of Needs as he studied human motivation. It’s just as important now as it was back then. Here is a visual of his hierarchy. Keep these needs in mind as you work with your students this year. When you spend a lot of time on the first 3 from the bottom: physiological, safety and love/belonging, then true learning in the academic sense can happen. When the first 3 are achieved/developed, your students’ self esteem will begin to grow and so will their ability to learn. What is truly wonderful is that you will notice less behavior problems as your students’ needs are met and their social and emotional confidence grows.
Here is an adaptation I have created to demonstrate how this hierarchy of needs might be useful as we are building community in our classrooms this year. This is a student friendly version. It’s a great way to teach your students self awareness and what it looks like to be personally responsible.
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