Every Student Matters: Cultivating Belonging in the Classroom
“Whilst belonging is defined in a number of ways, many scholars agree that a sense of belonging is critical to students’ academic motivation, success and well-being” (Osterman 2000, Newman 1991, Goodenow 1993b).
1. Know your students
The classroom is full of many different personalities and it’s important that every student has the opportunity to shine. Help your students see each other through your eyes, so they can see each other’s greatness. It’s easy to overlook the quieter students – so during the week making a conscious effort to check in with every student, it might seem an effort but can make a big difference to you and them.
2. Be positive
Don’t let your frustrations or anxiety’s spread. Every word we utter matters – let’s face it we want to be remembered for all the good things. Be mindful of dangerous messages around us particularly in maths with the ‘I can’t do maths’ culture. Instead, expose students to potential role models (current and past) to aspire to, for example, famous female mathematicians‘ and their achievements.
3. Praise for effort rather than ability
Build confidence and perseverance, we all have the potential to grow and shine.
4. It’s ok to make mistakes
Making mistakes is how we all learn, creating a learning environment that fosters a growth mindset is key. Plan in mixed ability groupings, opportunities to collaborate – it’s the talking and exploring that’s important.
Routine and scheduling bring normality and consistency to the day / week – it eliminates uncertainty. Timetables and daily schedules can support this.
6. Use technology to help
Take the pressure off. There are many online programs/software that can support the teacher and students. There is an abundance of choice, so sifting through what will enhance the teaching and learning bespoke to your context is imperative to ensure learning gains and to reduce the teacher workload. Maths-Whizz is a personalised learning solution tailored to every child’s individual needs and supports the teacher in delivering the maths lessons.
7. Don’t neglect parents
Parents have an important role in school communities. However, their perceptions of school and education, and how they value and support their child’s educational experience, have a big influence on their children’s attitudes and beliefs about school. Communicate to parents that a sense of school belonging is important. At Maths-Whizz we have the triangle of success recognising that strengthened relationships between families and school increases parental engagement and student motivation.
Plan in time to reflect not just on your students’ learning but on their social and emotional behaviours as well. Foster student identity building – weave in social and emotional practices throughout the term. So, back to Top Tip 1; Know your students!