A special thank you to Stephanie MacArthur from Stillwater High school for trying Spread the Love in her classroom, and to Latonya Rowe from Highland Elementary for sharing the practice with the Sevenzo community!
A few kind words can foster a sense of belonging for students
Spread the Love is a practice that helps students better understand how others value them. Just a few kind words can elevate, inspire, and foster a sense of belonging in the classroom.
Belonging matters in the classroom
Research shows that student peer relationships affect students’ sense of belonging, academic motivation, and engagement in school (Juvonen, Espinoza, & Knifsend, 2012), and it is the quality of daily interactions between students and teachers that creates the classroom emotional climate (Reyes, Brackett, Rivers, White, & Salovey, 2012).
Further, research on the psychological benefits of compliments suggests that compliments may be more effective at impacting performance than monetary rewards (Sugawara et al., 2012). A few kind words can have a big impact!
Check out these videos on belonging to learn more:
Inspired to try this practice?
The purpose of this practice is to foster a sense of belonging and connection among students. Spread the Love is a quick student-led activity to build a positive classroom culture by celebrating what each student brings to the learning community. Students take turns in the “hot seat”, and the big reveal of positive comments energize the classroom and fosters an overall sense of belonging. Each student gets their turn in the “hot seat” — and you can, too!
This practice would be a great way to kick off the year and ensure your students feel a sense of belonging in your classroom. Responses can be displayed and referenced throughout the year.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect and what you will need as you plan:
- Who should try it? This practice can be adapted for K-12 students.
- When you should you try it? This practice works best anytime after the first month of the school year. Students need time to first get to know each other.
- What materials are needed? You will need:
- Chalkboard or whiteboard
- Chalk or markers
- Camera or smartphone to capture student reactions
- How much time is needed? This practice will take 40-60 minutes to complete. It can be done all at once, or you can use 5-15 minutes of class time each day over the course of a week.
If you’re ready to get started, download the toolkit. Follow the guidelines in our toolkit to Spread the Love in your classroom.
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