Citizenship in the Classroom

How can citizenship be promoted in the classroom?

Teachers know that content is only one part of their job, they are also shaping youth who will one day be members of larger public.  Educators try to impart good values to their students in hopes that they will be positive and contributing members of society.  One of the goals of education is to help our students develop into good citizens.   This can be done accomplished in many ways.

First and foremost, the teacher themselves can and should model good citizenship.  Teachers have an incredible amount of influence upon their students, and they should be mindful of their actions because they are being actively observed.  Educators should aim to exemplify positive qualities.

Another way of promoting citizenship is through classroom rules.  The teacher can work with the students to create a classroom charter that everyone will follow.  Through the cultivation of a positive learning environment, teachers can establish classroom expectations that support good citizenship.  Educators can also actively look for teachable moments in which they can promote good citizenship in a tangible way.

Role-playing is an effective way to model positive interactions and teach kids how to handle conflict.  It is an excellent example of experienced-based learning, which means that this process will make learning more meaningful to students.  They become familiar with the how to interact with and disagree with others in a respectful way.  Additionally, this can help students develop empathy which is valuable component of relationship-building they can use in their everyday lives.  Being able to understand another person’s point of view and put themselves in their shoes are both significant abilities.  In other words, role-playing has practical real life applications.  We want our students to be comfortable with and capable of advocating for themselves and others.

There are several important aims of role-playing.  They are:

  • Exploration of feelings and emotions
  • Gaining understanding of attitudes, values, and worldviews
  • Improving problem-solving skills
  • Exploring content in a variety of ways

Another positive outcome of role-playing is that “…individuals can gain some measure of control over their belief systems if they recognize their values and attitudes and test them against the views of others” (Joyce, p.263).  This technique can improve students’ self-awareness as well as interpersonal relations.  This undoubtedly shows how useful this method can be when done effectively.

Teamwork is an important aspect of good citizenship.  As teachers, we can facilitate the growth of cooperation among our students.  As adults, they will need to be able to have positive working relationships with their coworkers, neighbors, and many other people in their lives.  We want to instill in children that there is great value in sharing ideas, and that group work has potential to enhance our thinking and learning.  Being able to listen and learn from their classmates is a good foundation for teamwork.

Teachers can incorporate positive values associated with citizenship into their lesson plans.  This can be done through intentional selections of reading materials and learning activities.  The world we live in is globalized and diverse.  This necessitates that we are also transforming students into global citizens.   Students need to be aware of world events, and current news on a global scale.  Banks says “There are many opportunities in school curriculum to link multicultural education and global education, and to help students view international events, concepts, and issues from the perspectives of the ethnic and racial groups that live in the various nations of the world” (Banks, p. 23).  Including this in your curriculum will promote multicultural citizenship and global identity. Teaching citizenship to students means that they can fight for social justice.

Another type of citizenship that is becoming increasingly relevant in today’s world is digital citizenship.  Students in schools today are often using technology inside and outside of the classroom.  Teachers should have discussions regarding appropriate conduct while using technology and also about what students say and do online.  Due to the fact that digital citizenship is a relatively new concept, many students are not learning from their families what is appropriate and what is not.

We want students to not simply be morally literate, meaning that they understand what is right and wrong.  We want them to be people of action who can make a positive difference in the world.  As a future teacher, I know that teaching content is only one aspect of my job.  I also need to instill positive values in my students so they can be knowledgeable and good citizens.



Banks, J. A. (2009). Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Dean, C. B., Pitler, H., Stone, B., & Hubbell, E. R. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, Dean, Ceri B.; Hubbell, Elizabeth Ross; Pitler, Howard; Stone, Bj (2012-01-05). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2nd ed.). McREL.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Weissbourd, R. (2012, February). Promoting Moral Development in Schools. Retrieved from