How to build up damaged kids so that they are happy members of our classroom communities? How to make our students want to be in our classes and slowly, via trust in us and in the way we are teaching them and in their peers, become productive members of our class community?
The strategies – OWI, all the Reading Options, the Word Chunk Team Game and the other strategies in the soon-to-be-discussed Star Sequence curriculum – indeed do a lot to automatically build community, but what about the skills we need to also build community in our language programs? Let’s talk about a few of those:
We must be constantly aware of the way we are speaking to our students in our classrooms. The way we speak to them should include kindness and generosity of spirit, because those are factors that uplift and shush shame. By developing this skill we invite our students to pay closer attention in class because they feel safer and loved. Most of us do this already or we would never have chosen this profession.
Yes. We are going into Mr. Rogers territory on this blog this year.
This is also Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, where loving speech from mom to baby is all that is needed for the development in the baby of trust in its surroundings. When we speak to our students in this way, we create what Vygotsky identifies in his research as a necessity for success in language instruction – that the classroom have a participatory and reciprocal back and forth sharing of ideas happening in it.