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Building Community in Online Classes

One of the highlights of my professional career thus far was studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, not once, but twice. Interestingly, out of all of the data informed strategies that were shared from the “rainmakers” in education as a friend called them, one of the most impactful was, “Celebrate the Work”. Every day one of the course participants would stand up and share a story small or big about something that had gone right. The assumption behind the practice is that the reasons to get down on ourselves or feel overwhelmed as educators are many, and by celebrating the successes we will gain perspective, identify what is working and share it with others and maintain our motivation and feel proud of the work being done.

However, recently, as sometimes happens, I ran into another wonderful idea on Edutopia for creating a positive class climate and fostering trust among peers, called I Dedicate This Class To. A student is chosen a few days before and at the beginning of the class gives a brief presentation accompanied by a piece of realia related to and/or a picture of someone they would like to dedicate the class to. It could be a historical figure, a family member, a person in the community or even a literary figure. The idea is that the student describes the person, why they are special and what they mean to the student while exemplifying the core values of the school or class. (The values don’t necessarily need to be named, students will understand and the idea is share not harp). You may also want to model the practice first and also show appreciation and recognize students when they are being their best selves. The wonderful thing is, in this constant flux of whether we are going back to school or staying home, this 5 minute activity is high-flex and easily adapted to each scenario

Try this in class and send us the video. We will post it here.

Here is a short video of how one school is implementing: