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by – Blanca Alvarado

Building community is an important component of my teaching. I use various methods in my teaching that allow students to interact with each other in such a way that by the end of the semester many end up becoming good friends. For instance, interactive ice-breakers, large group discussions, structured small group discussions, role playing, service learning, and other activities that focus on creating a sense of community. One activity that has been particularly effective in building community this semester is a brief “check-in” where I dedicate the first ten minutes of each class to form small groups of 3 members where they discuss the same topic each time; students discuss how they are growing their well being (social, emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual) and the benefits and challenges to doing this.

New groups are formed each class, so that students are able to interact with as many fellow classmates as possible, by the end of the semester. I end the activity by asking 3 volunteers to share what they heard someone else say that resonated with them. The “check-in” serves as an opportunity for students to not only share with each other the benefits and challenges to practicing “well-being,” but also allows them to practice their listening skills. I find that this activity creates an environment that encourages students to be engaged and interactive with each other throughout the class session and semester, and as a result, part of a community that is invested in everyone’s well-being and input.