Ep 19 - Skip the Small Talk and Silly Games: My Top Five Strategies for Building Real Community in Class

In today's episode of Let's Talk Facilitation, I share with you my top five strategies for building real community in class.

In last week’s episode, I talked about the importance of students experiencing belonging as a central factor in their willingness (or lack thereof) to engage in your class, and I talked in detail about how to position the cultivation of belonging as a cornerstone of your pedagogy.

How do we inspire feelings of belonging?

Through community building.

Today I am following up with the concrete, tangible, practical steps you can take to build community in your class.

If you have been struggling to get your students to do the work, to show up to class, and to participate in your discussions and activities, you are going to want to listen to last week’s and this week’s episodes!

My top five community-building strategies share a number of qualities in common. They all…

  • Center opportunities for meaningful relationship building
  • Are humanizing
  • Allow you and your students to see one another as real people
  • Provide space for building genuine connections
  • Provide support for vulnerability, which is key to developing trust

Here’s what these strategies don’t do: They don’t…

  • Involve silly games
  • Force impersonal activities
  • Keep everything surface level
  • Require a performance
  • Privilege small talk
  • Make shy students miserable

Instead, the practices I’m talking about are purposeful and strategic. They are designed to support the kind of relationships that enable students to show up to class and be valued as their authentic selves.




In today's episode, I talk about establishing and using group norms as part of the process of building community in your class. If you’d like some ideas of how such group norms might be described, you can download a copy of my FREE PDFs “Sample Class Discussion Guidelines Statement” and “Sample Anti-Racist Discussion Guidelines Statement”.