As February turns and we are in the middle of the long stretch between Winter Break and Spring Break it is a good time to take stock of where your homeroom community is.
If your community is strong, great. I encourage you to try and leverage those relationships into service to a larger community. Already do work in the school? Check out to see how you can support a local community organization. Already doing that? Challenge them to ask how they can change the community in which they live.
If your community is not where you would like it to be, it is time to return to first principles of community building. This is where my homeroom is right now, let me tell you why and how I plan on returning it to where I want to be.
My homeroom is great. Because we have been very strong since the beginning of the year we have done many service projects in the school and out. In the school we run two tournaments. My two seniors are running the school sport, Fraquetball, and it takes them out of homeroom everyday. This is a loss of leadership that my homeroom group can handle as I have a lot of leaders. However, several of my students are also running the school-wide kickball tournament which takes them out of homeroom twice a week (we meet 4 days a week). Combine this with the fact that my homeroom has had 4 new additions in the last 2 months and you have a non-ideal situation.
Instead of looking at this as a problem, I see this as an opportunity. I will go back to modeling how a lesson goes (because admittedly, I have gotten a bit sloppy). I will move back to sharing aspects of our lives, doing simple physical challenges, doing experiential educational activities, and assume that we have returned to the “forming” stage of community building.
In the forming stage the homeroom teacher has to take on more responsibility, seek to hear all voices, and make sure that the space is safe. My new students will learn the names of the rest of the crew (and prove they know them), and I will verify that the students who started the year know the names of our new additions (also with proof). I will make sure that cliques are busted and basic friendships are created. I will provide opportunities for students to experience joy and smile.
My anticipated result? Much as bench players get more experience playing when starts go down making the team stronger when the starters return, my homeroom will be much stronger when the tournaments finish up. When the homeroom is whole again I will challenge them to come up with a way to affect the community in even deeper ways.