Community is vital to a thriving culture of any organization. There are so many factors to a healthy community including flourishing relationships, strong ties to the cause and work, loyalty, cohesion, and better work output. The proof that community is important to organizations isn’t just in those outcomes, but tied to neuroscience as well. Matthew Lieberman, a social psychologist from UCLA, has completed research showing that humans have a strong reward from their connection with other humans.
The recent push for more relationship-building in education can address this strong need in the students we serve. The idea is that if we connect with students on the personal level and build the community in the classroom, they will connect to the content that is taught. The idea is promising for our educational system, and the increased awareness of the importance of relationships is a breath of fresh air. Relationships are not new to the educational career since it’s always been a people-centered arena. However, somehow along the way, and maybe because of the emphasis on test results, some educators moved away from the relationship part of the job. Either way, we’re headed in the right direction since the communication has turned back towards the vital culture component of strengthening the interactions in the classroom.
Now that the conversation has turned towards relationship-building in regards to students, the focus should turn towards the adults who teach them as well. Community is an important part of the teams educators work with each day because of the possibilities it produces such as collaboration, moral support, and overall connection to the school they serve. It’s time for teachers and administrators to add in a focus on themselves and the relationships among each other.
Ways to build community with the adults on your campus:
- Eat lunch together and keep the conversation positive (think celebrations, not complaints).
- Schedule a coffee shop chat where teachers come together and discuss important topics in the profession.
- Meet up on a Saturday night and build community by participating in an activity.
(Ideas: Paint shop, bowling, board game night, favorite things party, etc.)
- Write personal thank you cards or gratitude notes to your coworkers telling them you’re grateful for them for…and then list the positive attributes they have that bless you.
- Give specific and genuine compliments. Saying “good job!” is nice, but hearing a specific compliment can make someone’s day!
- Ask questions. Get to know your coworkers by asking about their lives. Finding out what your coworkers care about outside of the workplace can open up so much insight into who they are and why they tick.
Getting to know them beyond the teacher title is beneficial for everyone and will strengthen your bond. These are few ways to begin building community on your campus. There are hundreds of ways to do this alongside the people you serve. Once you’re fully immersed in a strong community, you will feel a sense of belonging and support that will pour into your life as an educator.