The feeling and thought of acceptance, security, solidarity, and being valued are known as a sense of belonging. In our families, peer groups, classrooms, working organizations, etc, we want to feel valued and belong among the group. In a classroom, where a group of students studies together, all have an emotional necessity to feel valued and connected with the others. To achieve effective education, a classroom and learning community where students feel belongingness is very necessary.
” A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. ” – Breni Brown.
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Importance of belonging in classrooms
A sense of belonging is an emotional desire of every person including the students. We have heard a lot about mental stress, depression, isolation, anxieties, and loneliness spreading among the youngsters of our society. This not only affects their personal relationships but also their education and growth and development for a bright future. Developing a sense of belonging from the classrooms itself can be the best solution for these complex issues.
This practice from the school’s classrooms can be highly beneficial. This will help students to form and shape their identities, good psychological and personality development skills. Students when they feel belonged and are valued in the classrooms, interact and involve more in their studies. It reduces the level of mental and physical stress of the students by which they achieve high academic performances.
What should all teachers do?
Interact with every student
To foster the feeling of belonging in the students, teachers must interact and communicate with every student. In a classroom, a group of students learns together and all are different from one another. All are unique in several perspectives. All the students are good and talented in their ways. One can be vocal, one can be shy, some can be very quick and some can take time in processing the information. The students who are not quick learners feel bad and lonely in the classes, therefore, the teachers need to interact with all the students to make them feel comfortable, belong, and valued. Shining a ray of light on every student’s ability, skills will encourage them to feel good and perform better in their classes.
Foster peer interaction
To make students feel belonged and valued, healthy and positive peer interaction and relationships are also important. In LMS, , this should be a must practice by the teachers as students can’t meet face to face. When learners of the same age will support and collaborate with one another, they will feel more belonging to the classroom and educational institutions. Include students in interaction as much as possible. Practice the activities in the classes, where student interaction can be done. Give students projects and topics on which they can collaborate to achieve their common goals. Teach moral values to the students which can boost their interpersonal relationships such as empathy, politeness, helpful nature, listening to others, teamwork, etc.
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To develop a sense of belonging in the classes, teachers should develop and show interest in the talking and messages of the students. Also, teachers should include the activities that the students like and are interested in. The monotonous practice that students listening and teachers only speaking is not beneficial. Teachers should also actively listen to the students as well. In your traditional classrooms as well as online classes, try to conduct sessions where students can freely speak about their hobbies, passions, interest. When students discuss all these, show interest in between. Maintain eye contact, smile, and show interactive facial expressions to make students comfortable and happy in the classrooms.
Whenever the new course or section begins, teachers should include the process of introduction where all the students one by one self introduce themselves. Teachers should create a space that is inviting, warm, and welcoming for the students. In this way, students will be able to adapt to the new environment easily. If a newcomer enters the existing batch, teachers should help the new student to introduce and interact with the others.
All the above-mentioned techniques are very helpful for teachers to make their classrooms the best place for the learners. Teachers should include these tips and techniques in their teaching patterns to enhance the sense of belonging among the students. Practice and following these will help teachers in developing a safe classroom, where every student will feel valued. By this process, students will receive attention and time individually and will also feel esteemed, viewed. This way students can achieve effective education and score well in academics.