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    How Belonging, Inclusion, and Community Create Meaningful Learning

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    How Belonging, Inclusion, and Community Create Meaningful Learning

    Belonging. Inclusion. Community.

    What do you think of when you hear these words?

    What do you visualize for yourself, your learners, and your school?

    Do you see environments in which meaningful learning is supported by everyone, from the student body right up to the administration?

    Can you imagine a place where everyone is safe to make mistakes and grow collectively, with no one left behind?

    Is it somewhere where everyone has something of value to add and share?

    The truth is, all of these are correct. Ultimately, belonging, inclusion, and community can be a joyous reality for any group, classroom, or school. We built the Future-Focused Learning Network to model precisely this.

    How can we create a community of belonging and inclusion that develops authentic learning experiences for our kids?

    The Five Agreements

    The Five Agreements represent the cornerstone of everything we do in the FFL community. They are how we maintain a sense of community and nurture the spirit of belonging among all the members of our network.

    Think about how the above agreements can build community through fostering belonging and inclusion. For example, is curiosity inspiring a collective quest for functional responses to real-life problems?

    How does courage bring people together to support each other through hard times?

    In what ways does reframing an issue provide a different perspective that might perhaps be more empowering?

    What role does trust play in a team-building environment, both the process and each other? 

    How does a sense of confidence in these things help a community thrive and succeed as a whole?

    And how do we enrich others by sharing what we know through connection and proper sourcing?

    Consider these beginning points of discussion between you and your colleagues as you think about how belonging and inclusion can enhance your learning environments.

    The Psychology Behind Community

    Humans thrive in communal habitats—we were not meant to be isolated and alone. Instead, we succeed together with social interaction, collective learning, and shared goals that have value and worth.

    Do you know the proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child"? It's true. Our health and wellness depend on strong social, emotional, and intellectual connections that can only come from being part of a thriving, inclusive community.

    But why is it important? What are the benefits to the mind and heart that have a place in a community that cares?

    Humans thrive in communal habitats—we were not meant to be isolated and alone. 

    In the article The Importance of Community and Mental Health, author Stephanie Gilbert pinpoints three distinct psychological benefits of inclusion in a community:

    • Belonging: Community provides a group you identify as being a part of as your true self. Instead of changing or conforming, a true community embraces and appreciates the individual for their unique qualities, thriving as they are meant to.
    • Support: Having people you can call on when you need help through difficult situations helps us feel cared for and safe. This translates ultimately to an improved outlook on life.
    • Purpose—In a community, though the goals may be unified, its people inhabit various roles. They offer different talents and strengths that work together in harmony. These purposes within communities help give meaning to life. 

    In this article, The Importance of Community, author Justine Clarabut considers the following aspects of a community to be among the most vital to the wellbeing of all:

    • Support which enables a community to sustain and continue the positive efforts of its members
    • Influence and empowerment in making a difference that matters to its members
    • Sharing to stimulate innovation and growth, breed new ideas, and contribute to the community's greater worth
    • Reinforcement to encourage desirable behaviours and provide motivation
    • Connection that builds valuable relationships and fosters a deeper sense of belonging, to help a community reach its goals and achieve a sense of security
    • Passion for sharing subjects and interests that resonate with community members, which builds the confidence and encouragement to create new things to share with others

    Can you visualize how all these aspects of a community could come into play in your classrooms or even your whole school? In what ways do these all apply to teaching and learning?

    How would learning be different? How would such a setting of belonging and inclusion improve curricular outcomes?

    Best of all, what skills and mindsets would learners build in such a community of learning that they could then take with them into their lives beyond school?

    How You Can Foster Belonging and Inclusion for Meaningful Learning

    The Future-Focused Learning Community is here to support you as you engage your learners by building supportive, inclusive learning spaces where all are encouraged to share and grow. As such, the network showcases a host of rich resources designed to bring us all together on the path to fantastic learning experiences.

    We created the group Everyone Belongs, which is a Community of Practice. It's a place where members collaborate, share ideas, and engage and empower learners through a unit of inquiry of the same name. As we plan and implement your ideas in classrooms, we also share our reflections and outcomes so that we can all learn from each other's exceptional work.

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