Build a Classroom Identity and Nurture Belonging

33-year veteran classroom teacher, James Alan Sturtevant, wowed teachers with the original Hacking Engagement, which contains 50 Tips and Tools to Engage Teachers and Learners Daily.

Those educators and students got better, but they craved more. So, longtime educator and wildly popular student engager Sturtevant is Hacking Engagement Again!

One problem Sturtevant sees in the classroom: Students don’t have allegiance to your class.

He writes:

I teach a dual enrollment history class. Dual enrollment is a college course taught to high schoolers.

A local college or university designates high school instructors who have Masters Degrees in a specific subject to teach such courses. I have an MA in history, so Columbus State empowered me to teach their World Civilization class.

It’s been a great opportunity for our students and a lot of fun to teach.

Click the image and sign up for this FREE, live, virtual conference

My class, however, seemed in limbo. We were still physically at Big Walnut High School, but it was a college course.

So, what were we? We decided we were both . . . and neither. Consequently, we decided to create a unique identity.

The Hack: Create a classroom identity

It’s wonderful to have a sense of belonging. When you ask students about their group allegiances, they’ll typically say things like: 

  • I’m a certain gender.
  • I’m a member of my family.
  • I’m an American.
  • I’m an Ohioan.
  • I’m a member of a political party.
  • I’m a Cleveland Cavs fan.
  • I’m a member of the softball team.

Wouldn’t it be cool if students also proclaimed, “I’m a proud member of Mr. Sturtevant’s class”? 

You may wonder, Why is identifying with certain groups important?

But consider this: If you identify with the television show Parks and Rec, when you select an episode on Netflix, you’re automatically engaged.

So it follows that if students identify with Mr. Sturtevant’s class, when they enter my classroom each day, they will automatically feel a certain level of engagement.

When it came to dual enrollment World Civ, we needed a name. Big Walnut University captured the nature of our class, which is part high school and part college.

It also has a nice ring to it. We amplified this newfound identity by creating a class logo to go with the name. 

How To Implement 

  • Challenge students to come up with a unique name for your course. Have students submit names and then the class can elect the winner. 
  • Challenge students to come up with a unique logo design for your course. Have students submit designs and then the class can elect the winner. 
  • Consider ways to use a class name and logo design. Create a letterhead or posters. Develop an online presence such as a Facebook page or Twitter account. Challenge students to create an advertising campaign. 
  • Investigate the potential of creating class shirts. My students absolutely loved this. 

Challenge your students to create a class name and a class design. Vigorously promote this identity and bond students to your class.

Sure, your colleagues will envy you, but that will ultimately be a good thing too, as they’ll want to brand their own classes and soon engagement will soar across your building.


50% Complete

Need help solving a problem?

Grab our powerful Hacks on mental health, fitness, wealth building, stress reduction, diet, work-life balance, longevity, and more--FREE impactful strategies you can read today and use tomorrow!