Creating a sense of belonging makes all the difference.
Every child wants to belong to their school community.
In school communities, that sense of belonging starts at the top. When school leadership values, respects, and appreciates educators, plant operators and every other person on campus, this supports a positive sense of belonging. This can take the form of a simple and sincere thank you, finding creative ways to celebrate small victories, or an offer to teach in your classroom while you take an emergency phone call.
As an educator, my greatest example of belonging started on my first day at a new school. I transferred there to start the "next chapter" and was given a goodie bag by the principal. In it was all of the "stuff" that made you feel like you were part of a team: a coffee mug, a travel cup, a school t-shirt. All with the school name and mascot.
But, the best part of the goodie bag was at the bottom.
There was a royal blue fleece blanket, embroidered with the name of the school and the mascot, and a note pinned to it:
"We want you to feel snuggled in. We're happy you're here!"
When that sense of belonging is felt by educators, office staff, and the ladies in the cafeteria, it trickles down to children. Children see their teachers valued and respected whether we consider that or not. Teachers who feel a sense of belonging are more likely to create that culture in their classrooms.
When children feel a sense of belonging and feel included, they are more likely to:
have positive relationships with friends as well as teachers
be honest and share feelings
take risks, even if they might make a mistake
work more collaboratively with peers
take feedback and grow from it
Regardless of who were are, we appreciate feeling a sense of belonging and feeling included. It makes us feel safe and content and wanted.
In case you were wondering, I still have the blue fleece blanket...
Diversity is a fact.
Equity is a choice.
Inclusion is an action.
Belonging is the outcome.
Inclusive is a program that supports inclusion and creates a sense of belonging through a better understanding of inclusive practices and coaching. CLICK HERE to find out more.