A new school-year, a new group of students, and so much to teach that it can already be overwhelming. However, we all know that the only place to begin is with community building. From the very first day, it is crucial that we create an inviting classroom environment where students feel safe, welcome, and accountable. And although there are numerous character traits that we can teach throughout the year to facilitate a positive classroom environment, I propose that we begin the year with citizenship. Hear me out!
Being a good citizen requires respect, cooperation, honesty, responsibility, fairness, and a host of other positive character traits that you will be focusing on throughout the year. Why not begin with the all-encompassing, community-centered character trait of citizenship? Are you on board with me now? Let’s get started!
Who lives in a community?
You guessed it! Citizens! This might sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes we forget that the easiest way to reach our students is by being intentional with our language and keeping it simple. Explain that you are all starting a new classroom community and that each student is a citizen of that community. Then discuss the language surrounding citizenship:
– Citizen: A member of a particular community who has certain rights, privileges and responsibilities.
– Rights: Rules about what a person can do or have, that people think shouldn’t be taken away.
– Privileges: Things a person can do or have that must be earned and can be taken away.
– Responsibilities: Duties someone is accountable for.
Use discussion questions to get your students thinking about what a good citizen looks like, and when and where they have seen citizenship exhibited in their own communities. Discuss scenarios to practice how they can be a good citizen in the classroom and at school. Finally, have your students reflect on what they have learned with writing.
Download my Daily Character Trait Discussion Questions for four whole weeks of discussion questions, scenarios and reflections!
And BONUS! As we talked about before, good citizenship can be shown through so many other positive character traits! So you’ll be passing out Character Cash like it grows on trees and well on your way to the classroom community of your teacher dreams. You’re welcome!