The story appears on

Page C3

October 26, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Education

Creating community key to good school experience

A healthy and strong school community is the cornerstone of a successful school experience. When one thinks back on their schooling experiences, many of the things that come to mind relate to community: Did we feel a part of our daily school life? Did we like the environment? Did we feel our opinions were listened to or appreciated? Did we feel we made a difference?

It is human nature to want a sense of belonging or to feel a part of something. At Shanghai United International School Shang Yin, we believe a child's success in school can be determined by their connection to their school environment or community. Community is a core virtue in Asia. It is very common for families to live together or people to remain friends for many years because they want to keep their community alive and well. Here, as is true elsewhere in the world, a sense of community keeps people safe and comfortable, as they know their community will support and care for them in good times and in bad.

Thus, creating a healthy and vibrant school community in an "East meets West" school is essential. Being an educator for over 10 years now and having worked in several schools across Asia, I have come to notice that certain activities can assist in facilitating a positive school community/environment. In my interactions with students whom I have kept in contact with over the years, they always comment on the positive learning community they were a part of and how it impacted their studies in a beneficial way.

However, how do we create a positive learning community in our schools? Experience has taught me that the below factors can assist greatly in developing a strong school community, which can lead to everlasting memories and great learning experiences.

Student council

Did you ever want to change or impact your school, but were unsure how to go about? School clubs such as student council enable people to share their voices while making a positive contribution to their school community. In most student councils, members are elected by the class to represent them and their issues. At meetings, issues are raised and discussed with the intention of enriching the school community. For example, if students feel the cafeteria food should be more varied this is a place where they can push to make it happen. The decisions made in student council show the wider student body that they are being listened to or have a voice.

Class meetings

Do you remember times in class when you had issues or concerns, but were unable to discuss them? As with student council, having a place to express one's self is essential. Regular class meetings can facilitate this opportunity in a caring and nurturing environment. In class meetings, students come together in a circle to bring issues to the group. This is a less formal setting than student council, yet still effective. People can write their concerns or voice them aloud to the group. Rules have to be in place (e.g. ensure learners express themselves in a non-threatening way). These meetings not only allow for goal setting and solving problem, but they also create a sense of class community. Group sharing can bring people together since many may have similar problems.

School-wide community events

School-wide community-building activities serve as an excellent way to better integrate the parents and the school community into a united whole. Events such as International Days allow the nations of a school community to show off their country's flag and culture (e.g. foods or customs) with pride to the wider school community. More so, it shows a sense of collectively belonging to either the world or the school community. For the parents who attend the school, it must be viewed as more than just a place where students are educated, but as a community institution where diversity is celebrated and unity strengthened. In essence, parents, students and teachers must unite to become a team. Such teamwork can lead to creating new school traditions and a sense of inclusiveness.

School virtues

Having a school virtue program or a student profile that addresses the essential values required to facilitate a healthy community such as respect, responsibility, international-mindedness, etc, is yet another way to build a lasting community, and contribute to the social and emotional development of our students. When operating effectively, a virtues program also involves parents as the school ensures its philosophy is being strengthened and reinforced at home. This helps students develop character traits that will make them more successful and adaptable as adults.

In the end a strong community can lead to a greater connection between the school and the shareholders. Most saliently, however, it can instill important values in learners that will - 20 years down the road - improve the state of our global society. Could anything be of a higher order?


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend