Theme: Classrooms that work: communities of learning

The theme of many of our earlier weeks has been that the managing of student behaviour is less problematic if students are engaged in their learning. A teacher who makes the learning active, reflective and collaborative, and who teaches in ways that are challenging, structured and connected, is likely to have fewer classroom management issues.

This week, we take this idea a step forward. Problems occur in even the best classrooms. What can teachers do to get problems resolved more easily?

There is a link between the successful resolution of classroom problems and the establishment of a sense of community in the classroom. I’ll illustrate this with a story in the lecture.

But how is a sense of community fostered?

The focus this week will be on three elements:
  1. Focus on meaningful tasks
  2. the building of good relationships with the students
  3. the building of good relationships between students

Once these three things have been achieved, a sense of community begins to develop, and problems are so much easier to solve in such a community.


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NOTE: CPP 2 lecture starts half-way through

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In the readings and tasks for this week, I invite you to explore the thinking of Alfie Kohn, author of the book Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community, or the related readings on ideas around restorative justice
  1. Charles (2005) in e-Reserve, pp 84-89 on Alfie Kohn’s ideas
  2. An audio interview with Alfie Kohn on classroom management
  3. Alfie Kohn’s website
  4. Charles 2008 ‘Discipline through self-restitution and moral intelligence’
  5. Chmelynski 2008 ‘Restorative Justice for Discipline with Respect’
  6. Lane 2005/6 ‘The Building of Relationships through Restorative Practices’

N.B. Note I’m inviting you to ‘explore the thinking’. I’m not encouraging you to critique the thinking. Too often, I think, we jump to premature judgment. We allow our assumptions about what will work to filter out evidence about what actually works. Explore his thinking. Allow it in.
Also notice that I’m not directing you to read or listen to any of these. You may have already chosen your readings for this week for CPP 2, and I encourage you to choose readings that help you explore the classroom management approaches that are interesting you.


Either on Moodle or on the Ning, choose something to write about. Here are some suggestions.
  1. report on your exploration of Alfie Kohn’s thinking, or the thinking of another writer (chosen by you from the CPP 2 e-Reserve) about classroom management.
  2. Reflect on your own experience of community, where you felt a strong sense of belonging to a community, and where you didn’t. Is there a link between this and your behavior within that community?
  3. In the lecture, Steve talks about ways of fostering community. Which of these do you want to be a part of your teaching repertoire? What do you need to do to develop the necessary skills?
  4. Phil has published a wonderful list of tips for preservice teachers going into their classes for prac. It's called The Hidden Pedagogy. Read the list and write a post which explores the connection between Phil's list and the fostering of a sense of community.
  5. Have another look at Courtney's post 'How to rescue an English lesson ..'. To what extent is Courtney's success the result of her ability to create a sense of community? What community-building skills does she have?



  1. Roll: A short sentence-long response to the Tuesday lecture.
  2. Pairs: in pairs, two minutes to talk to each other about your reading for this week.
  3. Writing: 3 minutes on a mystery topic
  4. Survey:Survey questions for Week 7.docx
  5. Classroom as community: Group discussions. (Groups to discuss, then to report back to main group.)
  • in what classrooms did you feel you belonged, at school or at university? How do you account for the success of that community?
  • in what communities did you feel you belonged, outside of education? How do you account for the success of that community?
  • how would you go about building a sense of community in your classroom ... or is this an irrelevant concept given your teaching discipline?

Graduate Diploma


Community and ICT (Meg's bit)

Complete Steve's community survey

  • Is there such a thing as community on the internet?
  • Is Facebook a community?
  • Is there a difference between face-to-face communication and online communication? Is there a link between the internet medium and how you behave online? What do we lose online? What do we gain?
  • What are kids doing online? What behaviours are they exhibiting? How do we know?
  • Can you build or express empathy online? How importance is emotional intelligence?
  • What constitutes successful online communities?
  • How can we 'manage' students' internet behaviour?
  • How can you build a sense of community for your classroom online?
  • What online skills do you need to develop in order to build a successful online community for your classroom?

Steve's tips
Can these be done online?
  • Allow for imaginative play
  • Use small groups
  • Provide structure, freedom within boundaries
  • Encourage expressions as well as thinking
  • Involve students in creating of rules and consequences
  • Follow-through on consequences
  • Guide and structure discussions
  • Tolerate silences
  • Value all constructive contributions
  • Simplify complexity

  • Focus on meaningful tasks
  • Build good relationships with students
  • Build good relationships between students

Do Meg's polls
Poll 1 direct link
Poll 2 direct link