We can probably all agree that independence and individuality are valued traits among students across America. As educators, we get the opportunity to see the benefits of autonomy and uniqueness, but what about togetherness, cohesiveness—community? With only a few minutes between classes and a brief lunch period, many students aren't getting the feeling of togetherness and unity at school that is very much a part of our daily lives as adults. And that's kind of a big deal because the positive effects of being a part of society—like sense of belonging, purpose, and empathy—are all vitally important for TXGU'ers to learn. Luckily, there are a few educator hacks we can perform to transform our spaces into communities, all while helping our students gain some valuable life skills along the way.
Getting started with students is as easy as asking questions and telling stories. With different backgrounds and perspectives, when students share their lives with each other they can start to understand what matters to the group as a whole. It also helps to take a moment to focus on what's good in their lives right now. By supporting TXGU'er achievements, it can provide insight on what works and what doesn't for others. But most importantly, students need time to interact with their peers. Simple as that. Building relationships is a great motivator in success (think about all the times you didn't want to let your coworkers down), and given the opportunity to collaborate, students will likely excel in group-centric surroundings. Culling a community might sound tough, but hopefully these hacks will help create an environment in which our TXGU'ers can thrive.