4 Classroom Challenges That Strengthen Classroom Community
Setting and maintaining the tone for a welcoming classroom culture is at the top of my teaching list. Before any academic learning can begin, students need to feel welcomed, included, and safe in their classroom. But, it can’t end there; maintaining class closeness continues to be my priority. This year Adobe Express started doing monthly challenges to get teachers and students to push themselves creatively. I decided to try out each challenge with my students, and what I discovered is that by encouraging my students (and myself!) to be more creative, I kept my class close.
Being aware of and celebrating your students’ unique identities helps create a safe and inclusive space. Fostering tolerance and creating opportunities for students to feel safe amongst their classmates are integral parts of a thriving classroom community. Sometimes it can be challenging to get your students to share, and that’s why this activity is so perfect. Adobe couldn’t have made this any easier for teachers to implement and for students to enjoy. Seriously.
This creatively-introspective activity can be completed in a class period or even extended over several days. There are plenty of design possibilities, and your students will definitely enjoy customizing their graphics. The prep is extremely low lift (hallelujah), and Adobe even provides a how-to video that you can play for your students to minimize prep even further. All that’s left to do is push out the link to the “remixable template,” and let the creativity run wild! I love this as part of a Morning Meeting activity or an ongoing project with your Homeroom or Advisory class.
Creating classroom norms is a key component and an integral step in setting the tone for a positive culture. As a new teacher obsessing over what to do the first few days of a new school year, I learned that to get buy-in, you need to create your class norms with your students and not for them. When your students come up with and have input on the class norms, they are way more likely to believe in and embody them. Adobe comes through with yet another digital activity that encourages ownership and creativity amongst a digital norms poster.
Start off by showing this video to your class to get the wheels turning (or watch it yourself and discuss with your students). Then, give your class some quiet thinking time—maybe even pull up a calming, vibe-y YouTube scene on your TV or screen—and have them write down 6-10 adjectives that they think should describe their classroom culture. Next, put your students into groups of 3-4 (Flippity is great for this). Give students time to compile all of their adjectives together into one big list. Then, have them vote and narrow their list down to their top five. Lastly, determine as a whole class the top several norms to be the overarching guidelines for the class. Here comes the best part: have your students design digital posters that represent their new class norms! You can print them out and hang them up or make a digital gallery online.
Developing your own logo for your class is a game changer in getting your students to see themselves as a team. Adobe makes it easy for your students to design a class logo together or share their unique qualities with their very own logos. After typing in a couple of fun identifiers and choosing a template, students get to choose from several logos and customize to make it their very own. It’s fun, fast, and personalized. After that, do a gallery walk so your students can check out their classmates’ unique brands!
I find it increasingly important to remind my students (and their families!) that scores on tests and grades on report cards are small pieces of their learning story. Sure, tests and grades are important, but they are by no means the end-all-be-all. When students feel like their worth is tied to scores, it can be extremely challenging to feel positively in class. A student’s learning story consists of so much more. Students can show what they know through a plethora of different avenues when given the opportunity. This Adobe activity is great for any time of the year, but the perfect time to launch this with your students might be during state testing week or before a big benchmark test. It’s a great reminder that a test score does not define you, and you have so many other qualities that make you who you are.
One of the things that really struck me about doing these activities at the end of the year is that we’ve become a family. Working together to create a logo, poster, and individual ways to express our identities under the same color scheme or theme, felt akin to creating a family coat of arms. This is us, we are saying to each other and to our school community.
Looking for more creative activities and resources? Check out more Adobe resources here!