I am curious how to develop a community in your classroom that is encouraging for everyone in the classroom, so that every student is a friend with every other student? Is that even possible?
It is unrealistic to expect every student in the classroom to be a friend of every other student. I do, however, believe that each student can be taught to respect every other student. Developing a sense of community starts long before you begin teaching your students. It begins with an approach to teaching based in your philosophy of education. When you base your teaching on the fundamental principles that every student is created by God, precious to God, and therefore deserving of respect regardless of abilities or gifts, you have a firm foundation. Each student contributes to the classroom in some way. Each student is gifted regardless of how s/he learns academically. We also have to recognize that we are all broken and live in a broken world, but God’s grace is bigger than our own brokenness or our students’ brokenness. By asking for God’s help, we can expect to receive the grace and wisdom to handle the circumstances that present themselves.
Each time we take an action regarding classroom organization or curriculum, we have to check if it is consistent with our fundamental principles. If our practices are based on competition, we have to question whether we are trying to build a sense of community. If however, learning involves sharing knowledge and working together, community will be enhanced.