We Have to Make Sure No Student Feels Alone

“Great classrooms are characterized by positive, open relationships, mutual respect, and a shared responsibility for the learning process.”- Robert John Meehan

School tragedies occur way too often nowadays. Often we find the students at the center of these tragedies didn’t feel they fit in. I know a bigger issue lies in dealing with mental health, but I also know too many classrooms do not help their students build relationships with each other and the teacher. Relationship building is an ongoing process. It means taking the time to engage all students in fun activities where students get to know each other. It also means pairing and grouping students effectively to accomplish meaningful activities where they can appreciate each other’s skills.

In my classes we do this by doing the following:

I tell my students at the beginning of the year we are a community and not a classroom. I also tell them that chances are they won’t succeed in college without friends and peers who support them and motivate them when it gets tough and it will get tough. This past week in my students’ journals several wrote about the friends they meet with and study with in our English class. I was so happy to read this, because I know that the effort to build a community is working.

Building a community and working on relationships is the “extra” I do. It isn’t part of my curriculum and not many professors take the time to do this. I feel it’s important and I’ve seen struggling learners exceed time and time again because they have the support of their peers. Part of the learning journey is ensuring our students have the support they need. I’m one teacher with hundreds of students each year. There is no way I can provide each the support and feedback to help them throughout their journey. If my learners can help each other then they have helped me be a much better teacher.

In my blog and in my books I continually share lessons, templates, activities, and resources to help you transform your classes into communities. Make it a goal to make room for relationship building. Cyberbulling and bullying has definitely impacted our learners. It’s time every student no longer feels alone.

Get your copy of Hacking Digital LearningThe 30 Goals Challenge, or Learning to Go. Ask me about training your teachers, ShellyTerrell@gmail.com!

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via TeacherRebootCamp.com, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Facebook.com/shellyterrell. Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.


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