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How can I motivate my students to work together better?

September 22, 2020

When we teach students to work together well in the classroom, we set the stage for them to be successful working with others their entire lives. That’s why establishing a strong classroom community is so important.

When we get good at creating community in the classroom, students feel valued, accepted, and learn how to be empathetic towards others. These types of classrooms create a positive, inclusive environment, but they also impact student achievement.

One strategy for building community is to create a shared class goal that every student can own. When everyone owns the goal, students can experience what it’s like to work together and win together. Shared class goals can be centered on academic performance, procedures, or even behaviors.

To ensure that everyone has skin in the game, get students involved in creating the goal and choosing the reward that occurs when the goal is achieved. You’ll probably want to offer a list of rewards that you’ve already decided on in order to keep it realistic.

As you’re working with students to create a shared class goal, make sure the goals that you set are SMART—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based.

For example, When 85% of our class passes this week’s writing assessment, we all can earn an extra ten minutes of recess. Or, for behavior, When all of our class earns one month of no office referrals, we will celebrate with a treat. (In the COVID era, we’re talking something pre-packaged!)

Keep the class goal posted where students can see it each day and be sure to consistently update your students on their progress towards their goal. Create excitement for students to WIN!

After all, a classroom environment where students win together creates a space where everyone feels valued and included.

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