The classroom community…is it worth the time and energy?

This is not a rhetorical question. The answer is yes.  

Classroom culture is often overlooked, especially by younger teachers. Building classroom culture through the first few days and weeks of class is vital to the increased success of the classroom as a whole. Especially one that is geared towards an AP® exam.


With any AP® exam, it is you and the students versus the test. No joke. I tell this to my students at the beginning of every school year. I tell students that the exam has already been created and is ready for them in May. We all have to work together in order to take on the exam like a dragon at the end of a cartoon movie. It is my job as the teacher to put in the time and energy to best prepare each student. It is each student’s job to engage and give the effort and time required. This is in stark contrast to the more traditional classroom where some non-AP® students feel it is the teacher versus the student. It is this aspect I enjoy most when teaching AP® courses. I am a competitive person and enjoy thinking of each year as my new season (after all, I am getting too old to play soccer like I used to). My students need to have this same thought process. I am a teammate (or coach) who wants to see each student succeed.


So, what does building classroom community have to do with helping each student succeed? Well, first off…students will learn better from teachers they like. This doesn’t mean that you need to give them candy and extra credit every day. This means that you are engaging students in the conversation of your course and the discipline in which you teach. Students love to come to classes that are fun, engaging, and challenging. AND challenging. Students may not admit this last part, but they do. AP® students signed up for your AP® class for the challenge as well as the chance at college credit. Therefore, plan to challenge students at an appropriate level.


By building a strong classroom community, students will feel more like a team plunging forward to tackle the AP® exam. Any opportunity to build that camaraderie can help all students achieve their ultimate goal of passing the exam and earning college credit.


Ways in which to build classroom community are abundant on the internet. For now, please recognize its importance and use some of your methods for getting students to work together. One of my favorite tips is to learn every student’s name and greet each student at the door individually to start.


For all my AP® Economics teachers, check out this post regarding specific ways to build a classroom community in the AP® Micro/Macro classroom. 


How do you build community in your AP® classroom? Share in the comments below or on our social channels!



Nick Anello has taught AP® Economics for nearly a decade at Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School in Flossmoor, Illinois, in addition to teaching IB SL Economics. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and two Master of Arts degrees in General Administration and Curriculum & Instruction from Governors State University in University Park, Illinois. He has led professional development programs at local, state, and national levels on the teaching of economics. In 2017, he received the 3M and Econ Illinois Outstanding Economics Educator award. He also served as a member of the AP® Instructional Design Team during the most recent curriculum update.