This is more of a "first days of school" type of post, but as my university semester just started again and I'm reading Freire (2005) and Brandt (citation needed), I've been thinking a lot more about what classroom community means and how it is built. This reflection also stems from a conversation I had with Dr. Ann Huddleston, who observed classrooms in my middle school mid-January. She commented on how she could tell there was a community in my classroom that valued reading, both individual and shared. At that time, we'd only been in session for a few weeks.
So I started thinking about how classroom communities are built and came up with two questions:
- How do ice-breaker activities contribute to the building of a classroom community? and
- Would it be more beneficial to create a classroom community around a specific content area? Or at least create ice-breaker type activities that are content specific?
I have to admit that I haven't done ice-breaker activities since my first year of teaching. As part of New Teacher Induction, a class all first-year teachers in my district have to take, we were required to have students complete an ice-breaker activity. At the time I thought it was neat. They had my buy in. But my students, most of whom already knew each other, lacked that same buy in. I remember being disillusioned by their apathy, but not having any other experience creating community, I pressed forward. It didn't occur to me that if a student had more than one new teacher, they would be completing the same project in more than one class which in turn would contribute to their negative attitude toward the activity.
As I read John Dewey and Paolo Friere for classes, and try to come to terms with some of the ideas these theorists posit, I am going to come back to these questions. Hopefully I'll have some answers.
With the musings committed to print, now maybe I'll find my path to resolution.