Why Does Belonging Matter?

One of the first questions people new to a community ask themselves is: Do I belonging here? This lesson explores those feelings.

Guiding Questions:

  • What is belonging?
  • How does it feel to be included/excluded?
  • What are the consequences of being excluded?

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Understand belonging is important
  • Practice perspective-taking skills that promote empathy
  • Understand the belonging is more than an interpersonal issue

Teaching Ideas:

Think- Pair-Share on Belonging

Ask students to reflect, in writing, on a time when they:

  • Felt like they didn’t belong
  • Felt truly included

Ask students to pair up with a peer and share. Explain that students should share as must of the story as they feel comfortable sharing. Make sure to leave enough time for both students to share. After each person shares their reflections, ask the lister to identify a word, idea, or phrase that they heard that resonated with them and explain why they chose it.

When students return to the larger group create two lists from student responses. One list should capture the words associated with feelings of exclusion like they don’t belong. The other list should note the feelings associated with belonging and inclusion.

Wrap up:

To conclude this activity, ask students to predict how the feelings they associate with exclusion, as well as belonging, might shape the way people think about themselves and act in the world. What can they imagine might be the consequences of those feelings and actions for individuals and the communities around them?

Another strategy:

Another way to conclude this activity is to have students work with paper plates and markers to create two-sided masks. On one side of the plate, create a mask that shows what it feels like to belong. On the other side, create a mask representing what it feels like to be excluded or not to belong.

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