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Belonging in School

Belonging in School
Creating a Place Where Kids Want to Learn and Teachers Want to Stay--An Illustrated Playbook

Fisher/Frey Imprint

280 pages | Corwin

Unlock a treasure trove of learning—make room for belonging in school

Belonging is an instinctual feeling: you know when you feel it—and you really know when you don’t. Creating a sense of belonging in the classroom has a significant impact on student learning and well-being; it serves as a gatekeeper for other aspects of learning to take root. But how do we create classrooms and schools where every student knows they belong?

This easy-to-use, illustrated playbook has you covered. 11 evidence-based modules feature actions and strategies that teachers can apply to help students feel more included. Interactive features such as essential questions and reflective prompts are designed to engage educators and deepen their understanding of the importance of connection and belonging in a student's educational experience.

Readers will find

  • Detailed coverage of the 11 dimensions of belonging
  • Evidence-based actions in every module to help foster belonging, balanced between elementary and secondary levels
  • Interactive features like Essential Questions, Two Truths and a Lie, Case in Point, What's Your Advice? and What's Next? to facilitate engagement and reflection
  • A highly visual illustrated style to promote comprehension and information retention

By utilizing this playbook’s strategies to create environments where students feel a sense of belonging, educators can help improve learning outcomes and academic performance while supporting the overall well-being of their students.

Overview: Dimensions of Belonging
Module 1: Welcomed
Module 2: Invited
Module 3: Present
Module 4: Accepted
Module 5: Known
Module 6: Supported
Module 7: Befriended
Module 8: Involved
Module 9: Heard
Module 10: Needed
Module 11: Loved
Epilogue: Where Do We Go from Here?

The authors have done an amazing job of outlining the importance of building a sense of belonging for all stakeholders in education. The focus is on building positive relationships where everyone feels welcomed, invited, present, known, accepted, involved, heard, supported, befriended, needed, and loved.This is the core of what all educators need to invest their time and energy on. Once you create this sense of belonging, you can then tap into each student and educator's true potential. The sky's the limit once you make this happen.

Dick Keeler
Principal at Central Valley Academy

Belonging in School is a delightful primer on how schools can make students, staff, parents and guardians, and community members feel welcome. Students work for people they like in places they like. This book provides a pathway to create those conditions and ensure inclusivity, connectedness, and academic success for all.

Zachary S Robbins, Ph.D.
Author of Restorative Justice Tribunal

Yessss! (Or maybe - Finally!) A whole book devoted to building the kind of culture in schools that’s worth restoring. Every kid desires and deserves to belong. Teachers, listen up! Content knowledge matters less if you don’t know how to build community. The authors break down the dimensions of belonging in a way that engages educators and shows them how to create and hold space for every student.  

Shawn Bush, Ed.S.
Director of Student Services, MSD of Lawrence Township

Dr. Smith's work with our districts has been nothing short of transformative. With a deep understanding of the critical importance of creating an inclusive, supportive school environment, Dr. Smith has guided our educators and administrators to rethink traditional disciplinary approaches. Instead of punitive measures, we now focus on restorative practices, conflict resolution, and social-emotional learning. The result has been a marked decrease in disciplinary incidents and a notable increase in student engagement and satisfaction.

"Belonging in School" takes us to the next level in our journey toward creating a more inclusive, supportive, and positive educational environment. The illustrated playbook is a comprehensive guide that offers practical, actionable strategies for fostering belonging not only among students but also among teachers and staff. This holistic approach recognizes that when educators and staff feel a sense of belonging, it naturally extends to students, creating a ripple effect of positivity and engagement throughout our schools.

Summer Prather-Smith
Director of Engagement and School Climate, Santa Rita Union School District

Dominique Smith

Dominique Smith, EdD, is chief of educational services and teacher support at Health Sciences High and Middle College in San Diego, California. Smith is passionate about creating school environments that honor and empower students. His research and instruction focuson restorative practices, classroom management, growth mindset, and the culture of achievement. Dominique also provides professional learningto K-12 teachers in small and large groups that address classroom and school climate and organization. He holds a doctorate in educational leadership from San... More About Author

Douglas Fisher

Douglas Fisher is professor and chair of educational leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. Previously, Doug was an early intervention teacher and elementary school educator.  He is a credentialed teacher and leader in California.  In 2022, he was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame by the Literacy Research Association. He has published widely on literacy, quality instruction, and assessment, as well as books such as Welcome to Teaching, PLC+, Teaching Students to Drive their Learning, and Student Assessment: Better Evidence, Better Decisions, Better Learning. More About Author

Nancy Frey

Nancy Frey is professor of educational leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. Previously, Nancy was a teacher, academic coach, and central office resource coordinator in Florida.  She is a credentialed special educator, reading specialist, and administrator in California.  She is a member of the International Literacy Association’s Literacy Research Panel. She has published widely on literacy, quality instruction, and assessment, as well as books such as The Artificial Intelligences Playbook, How Scaffolding Works, How Teams Work, and The Vocabulary Playbook. More About Author

Vincent Pompei

Vincent Pompei, Ed.D., is an education consultant who specializes in promoting equitable school practices and inclusive environments for LGBTQ and gender-expansive students. He currently works as an assistant professor in the doctoral program for Educational Leadership at San Diego State University. Previously, Vincent was the National Director of the Well-Being Program for the Human Rights Campaign and held roles as a Project Director for the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership, as well as a middle school teacher and high school counselor. His accomplishments include serving as President of the California Association... More About Author

Rachael Stewart

Rachael Stewart, Ed.D., holds the position of Professor and Director of Academic and Career Programs within the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Diversity at San Diego State University. Her area of expertise lies in the study of organizational leadership, change, policy, and practices in education systems. Her research is primarily focused on the creation of conducive environments for student success through engagement, retention, and post-graduate outcomes. More About Author

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