We all have a need to belong, also often referred to as “belongingness”. This refers to a human emotional need to affiliate with and be accepted by members of a group. This may include the need to belong to a peer group at school, to be accepted by co-workers, or to be part of an athletic team. Therefore, with our middle schoolers, whose priorities are their peers and being accepted, this need is even greater.
According to a recent survey conducted by Education Week Research Center, a student’s sense of belonging at school is important to academic achievement. In addition, the findings come as researchers emphasize the importance of students’ perceptions of their school culture and how those perceptions affect their motivation. Here is some data shared from a recent survey of teachers.
Based on these findings, a big takeaway from this is that teachers believe students need to feel connected to and believe that they belong to the school to succeed academically.
Teachers play a critical role in ensuring that each student feels that they belong. Social emotional strategies can really help increase a student’s sense of belonging. Here are some strategies that can help:
- Demonstrate that you care by asking students questions, both academic and non-academic.
- Follow up with students when they have a problem or concern
- Share your own personal stories with your students about your middle school experiences
- Make appointments to meet with your homeroom students to have a quick “check in” about their report card.