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Building Community Through Parallel Process

Posted by 
Mitch Weathers
March 22, 2021

We Learn Better In Community

When a classroom grows into a learning community everyone in the room can sense it. Humans are communal beings and we are drawn to community. When students are active members in a learning community it amplifies engagement, accountability, and learning. Transforming classrooms into learning communities is something effective educators must do. 

"When a student feels a sense of belonging in a classroom community...the student is much more likely to persist at academic tasks despite setbacks and to exhibit the kinds of academic behaviors that lead to learning and school success."

Teaching Adolescents To Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance: A Critical Literature Review - The University Of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research 

Welcome To Our Classroom

I stand at my classroom door, or Zoom waiting room, to greet each of my students before they enter. My goal is for my students to feel welcome. I want my students to be welcome in our space because that will help them feel a sense of belonging. Anything we can do to help students feel that they are part of our community is critical. 

Parallel Process

From my experience, parallel process helps develop community in classrooms. With Organized Binder, everything a class does they do together, through parallel process. Parallel process is a phenomenon that first came about in the 1950’s describing an interaction between a therapist and a supervisor. I use the term in an educational setting to define a teaching strategy used by a teacher with her students. Through parallel process the teacher, together with her students, engage in the predictable learning routines she has established. Using Organized Binder, parallel process allows the teacher to model these routines with a physical artifact, making the learning routines that much more tangible and concrete. 

Helping Everyone Engage

Parallel process helps create community. For students who may typically struggle to keep pace, this strategy is a safety net. For example, every aspect of a student’s Organized Binder is identical to what he sees projected in the classroom and identical to what is in the teacher’s Class Sample Binder. Additionally, every student his learning community has the same resource. I have watched, many times, while a student for whom English is a second language, or a student with learning differences, glances around the room to see what page the class is on in their Organized Binder to engage with his classmates. In other words, as a result of the class is engaged together through parallel process, no individual is left behind or left out.

When a teacher models learning protocols, through parallel process, she invites students to collectively engage. As a result the class is one step closer to being galvanized into a learning community.

Be well,


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