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Community building in the classroom

1 June 1998


The purpose of this research study was to answer the question: What can teachers do in the classroom to create a caring classroom community? Sub-questions I posed were: 1) What part do ceremony, ritual, rite, celebration, conversation, play, routines and jobs, and residency play in building a classroom community 2) Does a caring classroom community promote self-esteem?; and 3) Is a caring classroom community an explicit aspect of a teacher's curriculum, or does it seem to implicitly fall into the classroom routine? My research built upon the limited previous research on community building in the classroom. The two major sources I based my observations on were Ralph Peterson's (1992) book Life in a Crowded Place and Nancy Meltzoff's (1990) dissertation "Relationship: The Fourth R." This study took place in a public elementary school located in the Pacific Northwest. The participants were K-4 elementary teachers and observations were of their classrooms. Information was gathered through taped interviews and observations.: In, order to protect participants' rights to privacy and anonymity I have provided pseudonyms for all participants in this study. After collecting and organizing field notes and interviews, I learned a number of methods and techniques for teachers to use in order to create a caring classroom community. I discovered a great deal of overlap and interconnectedness between Meltzoff's strands of community, Peterson's signs of community, other relevant literature on community building, and the methods and techniques suggested by the teachers I interviewed. The teachers I spoke with felt it was very important for teachers to have the explicit goal of creating a caring classroom community, and also felt there was a direct correspondence between the classroom community and a child's self-esteem.


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