Go To Top

ThrivingYOU BLOG

Our thoughts, views and everything else.

Sustainable Connection: Belonging Strategies for Back-to-School and Beyond

by | Aug 17, 2023 | News | 0 comments

Fostering a sense of belonging and connection among students is crucial for their overall well-being and academic success. This sense of belonging helps create a positive classroom environment, promotes student engagement, reduces feelings of isolation, and enhances learning motivation. While many educators recognize the importance of these activities at the start of the school year, it’s equally important to maintain and strengthen these connections throughout the year. 

Developing meaningful connections goes beyond just a short-term goal. Educators who focus on building relationships with students throughout the year can create a foundation for long-term mentorship and support.

As we all know, students’ enthusiasm and participation can wane as the school year progresses. You can help maintain students’ interest and commitment to their studies by consistently emphasizing belonging and connection.

It is important to note that, the classroom dynamics may change throughout the year due to things like students joining/leaving the class or interpersonal struggles. Ongoing belonging and connection activities help integrate new members smoothly, provide students with the tools and language to navigate relationship struggles,  and ensure everyone feels valued.

Additionally, students face stress, academic challenges, and personal issues that can impact their emotional well-being. A strong sense of belonging can provide students with a support network and encourage them to seek help when needed.

Here are some of our favorite strategies to weave activities for belonging and connection into your classroom and content:

Classroom Social Contract

Starting the school year with a classroom social contract establishes expectations and consequences for students; however, it is crucial to involve students in creating the contract for effective implementation. Involving students helps to ensure student engagement and ownership. It is also vital to continually circle back to the class contract and discuss any changes that may need to be made or how students (and teachers) feel about the state of the classroom. 

Creating a Student-Led Social Contract | Using Community Agreements to Start the Year Strong

Daily Check-Ins

Start or end class sessions with a brief check-in to see how students are doing emotionally. This can provide insights into their well-being and offer opportunities for connection. These can be anything from silly “this or that” questions while you take attendance to a more in-depth Google form that allows students to speak more freely about how they are feeling.

Check-in Questions to Build Belonging | Elementary Google Check-in | Secondary Google Check-in 

Incorporate Personal Stories

Share personal anecdotes or experiences that highlight themes of belonging and connection within the subject matter. This can make the content relatable and encourage students to share their stories.

Facing History Together: Becoming and Belonging Lesson Plan

Classroom Circles

Classroom circle practice enhances classroom community and communication by emphasizing responsibility, relationships, and reflection. This approach offers an alternative to conventional discipline methods and serves students’ academic, social, and emotional goals. Use Circles to explore academic content, build relationships, or address classroom concerns. Establishing circle norms at the start of the year and then using circles throughout the year helps students feel a greater sense of connection to their peers and the content. 

Using Circle Practices in the Classroom

Peer Teaching

Give students opportunities to teach or explain concepts to their peers. This promotes a sense of responsibility and creates a supportive environment where students can learn from each other.

Ways to Incorporate Peer-to-Peer Learning | Collaborative Learning

Ultimately, weaving activities for belonging and connection into the curriculum creates a supportive learning environment where students feel valued, heard, and motivated to engage actively with the content and each other.

  • Enter Your Email Below
    to Download this Resource

  • Sign-up today to receive occasional emails with free resources, new products, and important updates to keep you in the know about all things Thriving YOUniversity!