Community, I think, can be achieved by having a close rapport with the students and amongst themselves. I know this to be a huge challenge. I remember substitute teachers who never were able to get students to do anything, let alone learn something. I had other substitutes who could get us laugh and get talking, but I don’t think we were ever engaged to learn, but we definitely had a rapport. But a classroom community isn’t just about learning, it’s about a safe environment for students to trust each other, to resolve conflicts, to be encouraged, to try new things, and soon learning will come.
Everyone must be involved in a community for it to be functioning. If someone is left out or if it diminishes the moment they leave the classroom it has failed. Because of that, community building is an ongoing process. There has to be give and take. Students have to give compliments – and also be able to receive them.
There are always ways to build communities. It can be through ice breaker games where students have to learn about each other, especially someone different from themselves or the friends that they already have. With overcrowded classrooms, the idea of the ‘student of the week’ would have to spread out over the entire year, and I’m not even sure if every student would be able to participate. Perhaps students of the week might be more apt or other more creative ways that either my students or I can come up with. When students can turn to each other in times of need I believe that is one sign of success.