Generating a sense of community amongst students and faculty is an important goal as the first few days of school turn into the first few weeks. When we feel apart of something, integrated into the experience, we are forced to become active participants. A sense of community is an integral part of generating this integration. If you have read this Blog you may be realizing that I speak often and highly of the school I left in order to return to Rochester. So I want to apologize for starting to sound a bit like Phoebe but I would like to talk about my old school again.
Barrie did an incredible job of creating this sense of community immediately and significantly at the beginning of the school year. The first three days of school included overnight grade based student retreats, adventure in the form of hiking, rafting, and biking, and grade based community projects. In the past these projects have included building raised beds, building a greenhouse, developing an orienteering course, or building low-ropes elements. What made these events so great was students and faculty working together to identify community challenges and create solutions.
So why am I telling you about this? Well, to make you all jealous of those Barrie students of course. I kid, I kid. I want to use Barrie as a comparison to the great job I have seen my placement school and cooperating teacher do at generating this same sense of community under a drastically different context. Get to know you games and introductions by faculty in the classroom assist in students getting to know each other as well as getting to know their teachers. Since these can be situations that are uncomfortable for some students to be a part of it is entirely up to them the level of sharing that they want to be a part of. School wide assemblies regarding school success and progress also help students understand that they and their actions are apart of a greater community and that that community has goals that they are a part of. Barrie had resources in terms of time, space, and student number, as well as some stellar partner organizations to work with (shout out to Calleva). My placement school, without these resources, has generated just as effectively a sense of community amongst the school.