Building a Classroom Community

The start of a new year meant the start of a new classroom community in Room 11. 

Children who had come from different classrooms needed to come together to create an environment where we could all feel safe and learn. Part of this process was to develop a  classroom agreement or treaty. As we shared part of our learning space with Room 10 we worked collaboratively with them.  

To begin the process The Tree Hut Treaty by Wiremu Grace was read several times.  We had thoughtful discussions about how the four children in the book worked to develop a treaty that established rules on how they were to use their tree hut. Alongside this, we discussed the three principles behind the Treaty of Waitangi: partnership, participation and protection and how we wanted to include them in our classroom treaty.

One of the illustrations in the book showed some children sliding down a hill on a piece of cardboard. It was revealed that not many children in Room 10 and 11 had experienced this so we decided to give it a go. Fortunately, we had plenty of empty stationery boxes at our disposal and plenty of fine weather.

The children were eager to help transport the cardboard to the field and worked together to get the task done. 

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It was great seeing the children work out where the best places on the field were to slide down. Different-sized pieces of cardboard meant working out the most effective way to use them.

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At other times the children spent time chilling out or watching what their classmates were doing.

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Some of the pieces of cardboard were modified or needed fixing the second time they were used. Time was also taken to talk about turn-taking, sharing, disappointment, and spatial awareness. Children were also acknowledged and praised for working well together.

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This was a great activity towards building a positive classroom community where students feel valued and connected to the teacher and other students in the class. It provided different ways for all students to be included. Children were developing social skills and an awareness of the importance of collaboration and a sense of responsibility towards others. They had an opportunity to form positive relationships with their classmates while we were having fun.

Our next step is to develop a classroom treaty from what we learned from this activity.

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Keywords: classroom community,  Treaty of Waitangi

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