Building class community is a work of heart. It takes a good deal of intentional effort during back to school time and throughout the year. You might read aloud books that encourage positive relationships or incorporate plenty of team-building activities. And it’s worthwhile to dedicate time to class bonding on an ongoing basis, such as with daily Morning Meetings.
But there are also many ways to accomplish the same goal that don’t involve a lesson plan. Community building can be interwoven throughout the school year in small ways, without even having to remember to carve it into your busy daily schedule. Here is one super simple, dare I say “passive” way to maintain a positive classroom culture.
Spread Some Positivi”TEE”
One easy way to establish a strong sense of community is to have you and your students spread a little positivity (or positiviTEE) each week. This is one of those “feel good” things to do with your class, and super low maintenance as far as the planning goes…all you have to do is wear a T-shirt!
First, just choose a special day of the week. You might call it “PostiviTEE Tuesday” or “Positive Thought Thursday,” for example. Tell your students that every Tuesday (or whichever day you decide on), they can wear a shirt with any positive message or image on it. For example, a shirt that says, “It’s cool to be kind” or “Dare to dream” etc. The kids love seeing and reading each other’s shirts that morning, and it naturally just gives the class an extra positive vibe for the day.
You can send home a letter to your students’ families to help get them on board. More often than not you’re likely to receive favorable support, as it shows you’re making an extra effort to provide a positive environment for their children.
Once you send home the letter once, there is really no further work to be done on your part! And your students get to have a weekly tradition all year that promotes a positive class culture. And speaking of positives, you get to wear a comfortable T-shirt to work at least once a week. It’s the little things in life!
I recommend stocking up on a few shirts that you can rotate between. Old Navy and Target tend to have a lot of tees with positive sayings, and there are plenty of teacher tees to choose from on Etsy or small business sites. Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve worn to spread a little PositiviTEE with my classes in the past:
A variation of this idea that you can do during the holiday season is something called Festive Fridays. Every Friday for the month of December, your class could spread a little extra cheer by wearing holiday attire to school (holiday sweaters, Christmas light necklaces, etc.)
Just like the positive T-shirts, it’s something super simple that brings an extra element of spirited fun for your class. This is the letter I’ve sent home to families:
Festive Friday FAQs
If you’re considering trying this out with your class, it’s likely that the questions below might pop into your head. Hopefully these answers might help.
Q: What if I have kids that don’t celebrate Christmas? ⠀
A: I have always told students that they can wear ANY holiday attire (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, etc.). Also, students can learn about various holidays through a holidays around the world unit. But I do still find out ahead of time if there are kids in the class who don’t celebrate Christmas. If there were to be a child/parent who would be made uncomfortable by Festive Fridays, then I’d limit it to snow/winter themed clothing or just choose not to do it that particular year. ⠀
Q: Aren’t Santa hats, reindeer ears, etc. a huge distraction in class? ⠀
A: I tell the kids if they are playing with it instead of wearing it, it goes into their backpack for the rest of the day. Simple as that. Although let’s be real, is every single tiny thing not a distraction for kids during the month of December? I say if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! ⠀
Where can I get the parent letters?
If you’d like a copy of the “Spread a Little PositiviTEE” letter pictured up above, you can click here and I’d be happy to share it with you for free! I provide a few different versions. There is a copy that’s ready to print and go, if you’re short on time. I also have one that’s editable so you can customize it however you’d like. Each version comes in color or black & white, and with or without your name/signature at the bottom.
And if you want to get festive on Fridays this school year, I have a free (and editable!) template of this parent letter too. You can click here to grab it. ⠀
What are some easy ways you like to help build class community and encourage positivity with your students? Sometimes it’s really as simple as wearing a smile (or in this case, a T-shirt/holiday sweater).