A Teacher Asks, “Why Can’t I Create a Classroom Community?”

“I greet my students everyday when they walk into the classroom. I take interest in their lives both in and out of school. I do my best to involve the parents by calling with positive news and by sending home weekly newsletters. I hold a morning meeting with a greeting, an activity, and morning message. I try to smile and be excited to begin each teaching day. I work hard on building a relationship with my students. In spite of all my efforts to create a harmonious community, my students still don’t treat each other well and can sometimes can be outright mean to each other.”

Do these words sound familiar?  Why is it that in spite of teachers’ best efforts to build a harmonious community, it doesn’t always happen?

While all the above strategies are critical for building a community, we find that teachers often do subtle things that defeat all their hard work and have the effect of dividing the community.

These subtle gestures most likely occur when a student continues to demonstrate behaviors that disrupt the teaching and learning. At these times, teachers might roll their eyes or make some other gesture of disapproval. They might also deliver a message of guilt such as: “I am sick and tired of having to constantly remind you!” or “Do you think other kids will want to play with you?” or “You are acting like a kindergartner.”

These messages communicate how the teacher is frustrated and tired of this student. The implication is that the student is the problem not the behavior! It conveys a message to this particular student that he is not accepted, that he is defective. These comments have the effect of ostracizing the student from the rest of the class and it gives the other students permission to not accept that student as part of the community.

It is understandable that teachers get frustrated and tired, after all we are human. If we want to create a classroom community for all students, however, then in addition to doing all those positive proactive strategies, we must also make sure we preserve the dignity of the student whose behavior might wear us out. We must respond to behaviors respectfully and continually send a message that it is the behavior that is the problem not the child.

If we can manage our own feelings and treat ALL of our students with respect, especially those who may not reciprocate, then we can truly create a classroom community, a unique environment where EVERYONE feels that they belong and that they matter.


May 1, 2012. Uncategorized.


  1. Beth Tesch replied:

    I think that teachers have the greatest opportunity to create or destroy classroom community by how they treat students that have challenging behaviors. Students learn best in an environment where they are treated with respect.

  2. Christoher Wiener replied:

    Well the teacher’s reaction may ostracize a student from the classroom community; it may also produce the opposite result. Students may unit against the teacher, citing the response as proof that the teacher does not care about them. In either scenario, the classroom community is divided. I feel teachers need to be alert to these situations and use them to solidify the classroom community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback URI

%d bloggers like this: