20 pro-social ways to build community and belonging in the classroom. By Kay Sidebottom @KaySocLearn

Last week, on the night of the EU referendum, I hosted #ukfechat on the topic of how to ‘educate out hate’.  The subject felt important, but at the time I didn’t realise just how significant it would be.  Three days on and we are in worrying times; hate crime is on the rise, politicians have no idea about a way forward and more people than ever are feeling disenfranchised and voiceless.

My questions were difficult ones.  How can we foster a sense of belonging and community?  What am I doing to foster a sense of belonging and community in my classes?  How am I preparing my students to play a positive part in a globalised and diverse world?  How am I enabling my students to express their views and respect the views of others?

Excitingly, the responses came in thick and fast.  I’ve posted them here, sharing the Twitter handles of our contributors so that we can continue to join together and share what we do, for affirmative action and change.

1. Start every lesson with a Thinking Round where each student answers a positive question in turn.  It could be something as simple as, ‘What made you smile today?’ It’s a simple one, but be rigorous about the rules; no interrupting, the person speaking can speak for as long as they need, listen with attention, keep your eyes on the person talking. (@KaySocLearn)

2. Learn names quickly and ensure that your students do too (@NickyCHawkins)

3. Emphasise the need to always listen when you or a student is speaking (@elenchera)

4. Don’t ignore or bat off the tricky things that come up.  Open up dialogue, instead of shutting it down (@dianatremayne)

5. Show an interest in what every student is doing at the moment (@david_c_ball)

6. Use icebreakers that are easeful and facilitate familiarity, not ones that put students on the spot.   Great ideas here http://www.cultofpedagogy.com/classroom-icebreakers/ (@NickyCHawkins)

7. Encourage students to ask why and question everything (particularly the media) (@_mrs_b)

8. Use inquiry-based learning approaches where students create and answer their own questions about a topic (not yours). Helps to remove your own opinions from the equation.

9. Promote resilience by letting students know it’s fine to make mistakes (and share your own). Acknowledging your own weaknesses will help to build relationships (@treezyoung)

10. Use small group work where every student gets a chance to contribute.  If you work with really large group try a tool like Poll Everywhere where students can join in on their mobiles. (@LibTeach19)

11. Explore the global dimensions of diversity by skyping a class in another country or hosting an international Twitter chat (@BCUPGCEPCET)

12. Use a ‘boat of talk’ (or any object – get your students to choose it!) for paired discussions.  Only the person holding the ‘boat’ can speak at that time (@NickyCHawkins)

13. Get students to laugh together. It’s good glue (@tstarkey1212)

14. Be explicit that what you are doing is actually critical pedagogy; and make the most of directives such as Fundamental British Values to implement new transformative teaching approaches. (@KaySocLearn)

15. Start a lesson with ‘One good thing’ where each student shares something positive that’s happened since the class were last together (@mrssarahsimons)

16. At the start of term have LOTS of introductions. Encourage students to work with anyone in the group (@judeng)

17. Encourage students to tell their stories.  Whatever those stories may be on a particular given day (@paulw_learn)

18. Share stuff about you too. What football team you support, what music you like, what you did at the weekend… (my mum!)

19. Use restorative practice approaches to manage conflict or behaviour issues. More info here http://www.transformingconflict.org/content/restorative-approaches-educational-settings  (@karlosjnr)

20. Talk about the ‘fundamental British values’ agenda with students and get them to articulate what it means.  If British feels uncomfortable, try Universal Values (great resource kit here by NAS/UWT) (@EqualiTeach)