Share My Lesson

Building a Classroom Community

Share My Lesson
Between teaching academic content and ensuring that students acquire the social and emotional skills to reach their full potential, educators have much to accomplish on a daily basis. Many new teachers, as well as some experienced ones, may feel overwhelmed as they make sure students are learning everything they need to know to succeed in school and beyond.

As educators know all too well, the instruction of students involves more than teaching lessons, building knowledge, and helping students meet academic standards. Building a classroom community is just as important. By fostering strong relationships among students, teachers can make a significant impact on student success.

As educator, author, and blogger Julia Thompson says, “The benefits of a classroom community … clearly outweigh any potential problems. Students who feel a sense of connection to their classmates … and to their teachers are much more likely to behave with courtesy and self-discipline.” These connections, in turn, will help them succeed on mandated exams and develop key communication and life skills.

While every classroom is different, it is those differences in the personalities of teachers and students that can make for an incredible community of learners. The AFT’s own Share My Lesson offers the following helpful resources that outline the basic steps for educators to take so they can build a community of respectful learners:

  • Get to know your students and connect with them on a meaningful level.
  • Lessen the emotional distance between you and your students in the classroom.
  • Encourage your students to get to know each other.
  • Guide your students as they learn to recognize their commonalities, and engage them in shared activities.

Building classroom communities can support effective instruction. To that end, Share My Lesson has launched a blog series written by Thompson to help educators implement these strategies in their own classrooms. Each blog post suggests easy-to-use tips that teachers can follow as they seek to create respectful classroom communities.

If you have ideas or strategies for building classroom communities, let us know! Just send an email to


American Educator, Spring 2016