With all of the constant debate about immigration and citizenship surrounding our country, it isn’t hard to form our own opinions and ideas about this subject. Because we get opposing viewpoints thrown at us from politics, newsstands and the government, it is sometimes difficult to accept that “being a citizen” of somewhere is even that rewarding or satisfying.
However, as teachers, we need to make it a point to create a sense of community and citizenship within our classrooms in order to nurture a sense of pride within our students. Aside from allowing the politics of citizenship to cloud our vision of what it means to be a community, we must take a stand for the values we cherish and uphold them within our classroom.
So what does it mean to have citizenship in the classroom, and how can we celebrate differences while also creating a sense of togetherness with our students?
One of the first steps to celebrating citizenship in the classroom is setting up an atmosphere that welcomes and embraces all students in a comfortable environment. We must allow students to feel a sense of pride and ownership in being a part of something bigger than themselves. By establishing this sense of community on the first day of school, we are setting up a successful foundation of mutual respect between ourselves and our students.
Another step towards creating this atmosphere is by getting to know students and discovering their unique backgrounds and individual cultures. Every student brings to the classroom a distinctive set of beliefs, culture and viewpoint that can enrich the lives of everyone in the school if recognized and celebrated appropriately.
What strategies can we use to ensure that we are celebrating a sense of citizenship within our classroom?
Again, it begins with each and every student and their unique and individual needs and background. Setting up scenarios from which students can learn and share with each other about their culture is an important way to build class teamwork and camaraderie. Students not only get the opportunity to share what is important to them, but they also are given the chance to learn about other cultures and the unique differences that each person brings to the classroom.
Celebrating citizenship is more than just creating an atmosphere of acceptance and respect between teachers and students. It is also about appreciating the diverse world that we live in and the opportunities that surround us every day.
By embracing this vision of coming together, we are opening up the minds of ourselves and our students to the beauty of belonging with others. Sharing the joy of community is one of the most beautiful and rewarding things we can share with our students.
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