60 Second Classroom Community Builder

Hi there! Building a classroom community where students recognize each others strengths, support each other, and feel appreciated as individuals is what every teacher strives for. I have a quick activity today to help build this environment in your own class. The best part is, it takes less than a minute and has a huge impact! Note, you may have to model it the first time, maybe with another teacher, assistant, or volunteer.

Choose one student to sit in the "hot seat". You can have your student of the day simply stand in front of the room or can make things more elaborate by having a chair decorated for the occasion. You can randomly choose the child, choose one who has been having a hard time lately and needs a boost, or even go down your class list in ABC order. However you decide on the student of the day is fine, as long as everyone gets one turn before someone gets a second.

Pass out one sticky note to every person in your class, except the student of the day. I like to use different shaped and decorative sticky notes like the ones below to make things even more fun. Sometimes the kinds with lines make it easier for my young writers.

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The student of the day is not allowed to speak or respond during this next part (which may feel a little awkward for them at first but will become routine). Set a timer for 60 seconds. Every child writes down compliments about the "student of the day" while the student stands or sits in the front of the room. This can be anything from something they noticed them doing ("I liked how you worked hard solving math problems yesterday.") to the strengths they recognize ("You are good at reading chapter books. You can read with expression. You have neat handwriting.").

Next, have students read their compliments and observations aloud. The student who was in the "hot seat" then gets to keep all of the sticky notes about themselves. You could staple them together, glue them into a journal, or send them home as is.

Repeat each day (with a different child) during your morning routine, morning meeting, or when you have a spare minute between activities.

If you have students who are not able to write sentences yet, you could allow them each to draw a picture on their sticky notes. You can also have them call out their answers and record them on a big piece of paper that the student could take home as a poster.

This is also an incredible activity to use during your staff meetings or grade level planning time. For this version you first divide into small groups (ideally no more than 5 people per group). Then, have one person as the recorder, one person as the person in the hot seat, and the rest of the small group as those sharing answers for 60 seconds. Next, switch roles and repeat until each person has had a turn being in the hot seat. It is harder than it sounds to sit there silently and take in the compliments, but I am not going to lie, having that sticky note to go back to on challenging days is really comforting!

Give this 60 second community builder a try and let me know how it goes!

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