One of the essential questions at the heart of our Engaged Classrooms approach is “How do I foster and sustain strong and supportive personal relationships?”
For adolescents, an emotional connection with adults is perhaps the single most important factor for fostering positive development, including higher levels of engagement, motivation, and academic performance. In addition, the soul of a classroom is the psychological sense of community created among and between the students and the teacher.
Creating supportive, welcoming, and trusting environments takes time and many small steps to ensure that students feel a deep sense of connection to the teacher and to the class community. Chapter 4 of our new book, Engaged Classrooms: The Art and Craft of Reaching and Teaching All Learners, presents and explores two key classroom practices – Knowing Students and Making Them Feel Known, and Creating Group Cohesion – that help build this connection.
The chapter starts with a rationale (the why-to) and moves to specifics (the how-to). We offer many strategies and structures for developing and using these practices, and we provide references to research that supports them.