How to Intentionally Foster
Belonging In Your Classroom
Free "All About Me" Student Posters
Belonging is pretty much the most important thing in life. Not just for middle schoolers, for us adults too.
It is a basic human need (just ask Maslow). And it's fundamental to thriving as it gives immense value and meaning to life. Because I know you're just like me and in the business of building healthy, prosperous lives, we need to intentionally create a sense of belonging within the heart of each and every student.
Thankfully, I work with like-minded rock star teachers who also see the necessity of belonging. So, to cultivate a sense of belonging, we started our school year with an Identity Unit in Advisory*. The Identity Unit centered on creating an All About Me poster. And today I am sharing it with you.
Here's a quick look at how this All About Me poster fosters belonging:
- Makes students the center of attention! From the second, you walk into school, students are the primary focal point as their posters line the hallways.
- Gives teachers and schoolmates a window into each student's life beyond their school persona. I love wandering the halls reading into the lives of each student!
- Creates an opportunity to discover commonalities with other students and teachers that may not come up in general classroom conversation.
- Let's students know we (teachers) are interested in their lives beyond our content area.
All About Me Poster
So here's how this project went down...During the first few weeks of school, each Advisory class period was dedicated to exploring one of the six sections of the poster. Sections included: a 10-second bio, personal pledge, community & service, home & family, hobbies & recreation, and education & career (the latter sections were adapted from Kids at Hope). Students answered guiding questions on a worksheet (↓) and took part in circle discussions to helped flesh out their understanding of the various component of their life. Let's take a look at each section.
In a nod to Snapchat, students began by writing a ten-second biography. They were asked to introduce themselves and give some quick highlights about their identity. Like this...
Next, students wrote pledges. This is my fav part of this poster. Each student wrote a pledge about how they would help create a positive school environment. All credit goes out to my colleague Laurie! She had an amazing pledge writing template that helped students write personal and meaningful pledges. I mean just take a look at these...
Each pledge is unique and a true reflection of the student. The writing prompt really challenged students (and teachers) to evaluate their strengths and weakness. Here's my pledge: #TalkLessSmileMore
I am an authentic, passionate, and adventurous person.
Today, I will be joyous and listen wholeheartedly to others.
My words and actions will be kind and empathetic.
Today, I will be optimistic and I choose to set a standard of kindness at our school.
The Rest of the Poster
The remaining elements connected to core areas of our life and identity. Building off of the guiding questions and discussion time, students shared about each area of their life. They were encouraged to bring life to their words with photos, printed Google images, or personal drawings. Here are some examples of each of the four sections.
I absolutely loooove the end result! Simply put, these posters are powerful conversational pieces. On any given day, students, teachers, parents, and school visitors can be seen reading through the 300+ posters. Throughout the year, as they hang on the wall, they will continue to promote belonging and challenge us to uphold our pledges.
Since I know how much you care about empowering your kids to thrive, I highly recommend this activity or something similar! If you've already done something similar in your classroom (because you're amazing) please share!!!!
Until next time superhero teacher,
*Advisory is a 45 minute class at the start of school on Mondays and Fridays. Each student in the school is divided into a group. Lessons connect to the non-academic skills needed to thrive and succeed in life.
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A middle school health teacher turned curriculum developer (and #WAHM). I'm on a mission to share the easiest-to-teach, most impactful health lesson plans on the Internet. Because your time and energy is better spent on teaching and connecting, not on planning and prep.