Community Building in the 1-2 classroom

(By Lynn Schuster)

We had an adventure-filled first week and I am prepared for week two. In the week ahead, the children and I will begin our conversations to shape and agree on the guidelines we want to live by as a community. 


As a Parker teacher, I do not come with a poster of rules I’ve crafted on my own and ask the kids to comply. Instead, we co-create our expectations for ourselves and community through days of discussions and thinking individually, in pairs, and as a whole group about what we need to feel safe and do our best work at school, what we need to give to others so they can realize the same thing, and who and what we will look after with care. 
In thinking about our country’s democracy and founding documents during an election year, I am going to introduce the concept of ideals for these tenets we will craft, negotiate, compromise, and agree to live by together. Ideals are aspirational and collegial. As in anything worthwhile, ideals come to life in the doing. I want the children to understand that as humans, we will all at times slip up and need to be reminded of our responsibilities to each other. There’s nothing more important in my mind than learning how to work things out in moments of challenge and to come back together with a shared purpose.

Read alouds help set the tone, generate discussion, and help children identify what they each need and help them think about what others require to feel comfortable. 

Here are the books I read aloud last week to begin us on our course:

•The Day You Begin, Jacqueline Woodson

•Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, Patty Lovell

•Listening with My Heart, Gabi Garcia

And here’s an incomplete list of community-building books on the agenda for this and the coming weeks:

•All Are Welcome, Alexandra Penfold

•Wings, Christopher Myers

•Every Kindness, Jacqueline Woodson

•The Invisible Boy, Trudy Ludwig 

•Say Something, Peter Reynolds

•Have You Filled Someone’s Bucket Today? Carol McCloud

•Our Class is a Family, Shannon Olson

I can’t wait to begin this work. 

Read “An Interview With Lynn” to learn more about our amazing 1-2 teacher:

Read more about Parker’s Philosophy on our Lower School Page: