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NYC Helpline: How To: Develop as a Professional

Building Community in Your School
Theresa London Cooper

As teachers, we spend a great deal of time in school teaching, working, and learning. I thought of my class and school as a “second home,” a place to build and maintain relationships with people with whom I worked. As professionals, there are a number of ways we can build community and create an environment that welcomes our presence, makes life a little less stressful, and increases our productivity.

  1. Get to know everyone in the building, beginning with the school safety agent, the lunchroom staff, the support personnel (payroll and pupil personnel secretaries, guidance counselor, librarian, psychologist, nurse, and family associates).
  2. Greet everyone in the building – say hello or good morning when entering the building and say good evening when leaving. I know it sounds like a simple thing, but many people don’t do it. It can be the beginning of establishing a relationship.
  3. Take time to have conversations here and there to establish a rapport with individual staff members.
  4. Attend the social functions that take place during the holidays and/or at the end of the school year. These functions are perfect opportunities to get to know your colleagues.
  5. Have lunch with other staff members one or two days during the week.
  6. Get to know the people in the neighborhood. The police officers, fire fighters, librarians, grocery store managers and neighbors that you may see as you come to work are great resources of information for your students. In some instances they may be future models of professions.

Over the years of my teaching, I have made wonderful relationships that I will cherish for a lifetime. Building community helped me see the school and the neighborhood as a place I wanted to teach and helped me enhance learning for my student as I called upon the expertise of the staff.

Is your classroom and school a “second home?” If not, what can you do to build community?

E-mail Theresa.


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