Online Professional Learning and
Technical Assistance for
21st Century Community Learning Centers


July 13, 2023

Camaraderie is a sense of belonging and togetherness — a feeling of friendliness, goodwill, and familiarity among the people in a group. Building a sense of togetherness and collaboration among your students starts now! Let’s explore what it takes to be a good comrade, and how building camaraderie among students now can improve learning in the future. 

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work 

Perhaps you remember team projects that went a little like this: You split students into groups and assigned tasks to each group member, having faith that everyone would do their part. Then, at the last minute, somebody — or just about everybody — dropped the ball, and one group member got stuck picking up the pieces. Repeated experiences like this are a big reason teamwork may have gotten a bad rap among students. If you’ve ever heard a resounding “Nooooo!” when you assigned group work, you know what I’m talking about. However, building camaraderie amongst your students and encouraging teamwork has many benefits: 

  • It teaches essential social skills, such as active listening and effective speaking. When students value camaraderie, they’re more likely to function together as a cohesive unit.  
  • Students have opportunities to learn how to express their ideas and opinions respectfully and confidently in a group setting. Even when students don’t agree with each other, they can still build the lifelong skill of respectfully disagreeing and reassessing their points of view! 
  • Camaraderie improves self-confidence and self-assurance. When students know they always have someone to count on, it becomes a self-sustaining cycle: Students who prioritize a sense of community and trust will get it back tenfold, so they’ll have more energy and motivation to reinvest in the group’s success the next time.  
  • Camaraderie in the classroom almost always translates to success in students’ professional lives. After all, few career paths require employees to operate in total isolation. The ability to work well with others is a valuable skill — one that most employers notice and appreciate.  

Sharing is Caring — and Mandatory 

We’ve all heard the phrase “sharing is caring,” and we all know what it’s like to hear a teacher or parent scold us for not sharing our toys. Have you ever stopped to think about why you shared your toys in the first place? Was it because you genuinely wanted to, or was it because it was kind of “mandatory”? It’s important to instill a sense of community within your program, but how can we make sure it’s coming from the heart and not because you “told them so”? 

  • Encourage appropriate levels of vulnerability from your staff and your students. Students can’t learn from each other if they can’t see the humanity in others and don’t feel welcomed into their lives. When we’re vulnerable enough to take a chance on reaching out, and when we’re willing to share our experiences with others, we move from the loneliness of the silo into the connectedness of commonalities. 
  • Promote a sense of responsibility among your students and encourage them to own their mistakes. When everyone feels comfortable apologizing when they’re wrong, they’re likely to feel safer when they inevitably make a mistake. 
  • Provide opportunities for genuine connections by encouraging students to ask for help from their peers or program staff and by fostering genuine and casual conversation about important topics in a low-stakes environment. Facilitate free-wheeling discussions that provide opportunities for students to share ideas and feelings in a nonthreatening setting. During snack time, for example, you can invite them to share their thoughts on a book you’re reading as a class. 

Camaraderie may sound simple and maybe even unnecessary to spotlight. But don’t overlook its potential! If you intentionally nurture a sense of camaraderie among students, you’re sure to increase their confidence, collaboration, and productivity. You’re setting them up with skills they’ll use way beyond the classroom. Way to go! 


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