Obvious: All humans need to feel connected and have a sense of belonging. Less obvious: Teacher’s have less power to actually achieve this with all students than we think. We can WELCOME all students. But belonging has to be mutual and organic.
Hot take: not ALL students need this from their school or ALL of their teachers. It is our teacher ego that tells us that they do.
MANY kids do need this. But not all. Some have this need met at home, or at church or on a club sports team or community theater or music group. Sounds like the ideal system to me. We all need similar things, but the way we meet these needs must remain flexible and free.
The one thing ALL students need when they come to school is to learn the content to proficiency, or to their potential etc.
I think of “belonging at school,” or in my class as a buffet item. It is all you can eat and available to ALL. But if you want only a small portion, or none (in my case, if you ONLY want the music) then I respect that.
Edit/addendum: belonging cannot occur unidirectionally. It must be reciprocal. And in case anyone is picturing those cheap nasty buffets with no customer service, think instead of the bougie kind where the waiters are always walking around with sampler trays encouraging you to try things. This is no Pizza Street. This is Fogo de Chao. Also, I love my students, even the ones that take a small plate. I just offer more tomorrow.