An Urgent Need: BELONGING

My #onewordONT for 2016 is BELONGING.

Captureoneword me

Coincidentally, our Director of Education’s one word is also BELONGING.


We know that BELONGING is one of the strongest keys to success for each of us in life. Much has been written about the critical importance of this for students, including this excerpt taken from “A Sense of Belonging:  Background Literature” (pg 3):



The #BELONGING reveals an urgency behind ensuring that all students feel this sense at school:




And this one really made me think:

Capturebelonging and fitting in

If we want students to fully engage in Our Conditions for Learning, specifically to take risks, to genuinely collaborate, to be accepting of ideas different than their own, then they need to be comfortable to do so.

Capturebelong final

Through our Theory of Action we envision our schools as places where the Learning Mindset permeates and thus, ensures that all people and thinking is accepted.  We envision schools where it is safe to take multiple perspectives, where it is okay to not know YET, and where the learning is relevant.


To achieve this, it is our students who must have/be empowered with, the strongest voice.  We are working on this as we provoke and foster this voice by providing environments and instruction that allows this to develop – by fostering student centered environments and pedagogy. See below to determine where you are at in this journey!


(Toshalis and Nakkula, Engagement and Student Voice, 2012, pg. 24)

We know that when students’ have a voice in a safe and accepting environment, we are achieving a truly student centered learning environment. “When students believe that they are valued for their perspectives and respected, they begin to develop a sense of ownership and attachment to the organization in which they are involved” (Mitra 2009). Similarly, when students are “able to talk about [their] experiences of learning in school and [have their] account taken seriously [it] offers students . . . a stronger sense of membership . . . a stronger sense of respect and self-worth . . . a stronger sense of self-as-learner . . . [and] a stronger sense of agency” (Rudduck, Demetriou, & Pedder 2003)” (Toshalis and Nakkula, Engagement and Student Voice, 2012, pg. 25). A strong sense of BELONGING has the potential to both provide the foundation for and can be the result of, this type of school culture.

Note the connection to this section of our Theory Of Action:

Capturetheory belonging

When we put students at the center, our actions should reflect a greater sense of belonging to the school. We need to keep trying new and innovative ways to increase engagement, motivation and BELONGING…our most urgent need.

Capturekathkeep calm

Until Next Week… What does it really mean to BELONG and how are we ensuring that the people around us – staff, students and parents – feel a strong sense of belonging to our/their schools?  What are our best practices?  What are the innovative practices that you are thinking about?


3 responses

  1. Cathy McCann-Kyte | Reply

    How would those people have belonged in the class of today ? How might a teacher be fostering their belongingness without dampening their thinking or doing differently.


  2. Hi Cathy,
    Thanks for your post! This is one of my favourite videos when thinking about honouring thinking, innovation and the need to ensure that we all possess the learner mindset whereby ideas and people – thinking – is valued. Different ideas are welcome! To allow for these ideas to be honoured, classroom practices and instruction need to be established in such a way to allow for this type of thinking – my first thought is the use of open response questions that ensure multiple perspectives! We need to provide opportunities for thinking!


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