There is a direct relationship between the kind of learning environment teachers create in their classrooms & student achievement. Here are 10 specific strategies for developing the optimal classroom climate & cultur
1. Address Student Needs
Be careful about your students, have not only the physical needs but also important the psychological needs for order & security, the personal power & competence, love & belonging, freedom & novelty, & fun. Students are happier to be there, when teachers intentionally address these needs in the classroom, behavior incidents occur far less frequently, & student engagement & learning increases.
2. Create a Sense of Order
All students need structure & want to know that their teacher not only knows his content
- Enter the classroom & become immediately engaged in a learning activity
- Distribute & collect materials
- Find out about missed assignments due to absence & how to make them up
- Get the teacher’s attention without disrupting the class
- Arrange their desks quickly & quietly for various purposes: in rows facing the front for direct instruction, in pairs for collaborative learning, in groups of four for cooperative learning, & in a large circle for class discussions
3. Greet Students at the Door Every Day
As students enter your classroom. Explain that you want students to make eye contact with you, give you a verbal greeting, & depending on
4. Let Students Get to Know You
Students come into the classroom with the preconceived perceptions of teachers. Mostly it’s good, but sometimes it can be an obstacle. Since the only way to impact the people’s perceptions is to provide them with the new/latest information or new experiences, I would give students a quiz about me during the first week of school. (Of course, it didn’t count.) I’d have them take out a piece of paper, number it from 1 to 10, & answer questions about me. Where did I grow up? What is something I value? What is something I do for fun? What other jobs have I had besides teaching?
After the quiz, we would go over the answers as a class while I shared a slideshow of pictures of my children, my hometown, & representations of things that are important to me, like family, education, a strong work ethic, fairness, & so on. (I would even get a laugh out of some of their answers.) Students enjoy learning about their teachers, & the quiz gave me an opportunity to share who I am, what I value, & what experiences I bring to teaching.
If the “1st-week quiz” is not something you are comfortable with, think of other ways you can share with your students:
- Who you are?
- What you stand for
- What you will do for students & what you won’t do for them
- What you will ask of your students & what you won’t ask of them
5. Get to Know Your Students
About your students, the more you know is cultures, extracurricular activities, interests, personalities, goals, learning styles, & mindsets, the better you can reach them & teach them. Some ways of getting to know your students:
- Educate yourself about their cultures
- Talk to them
- Assign journal prompts & read & respond to them
- Attend extracurricular events
- Have students complete interest inventories or surveys
- Have students complete learning style & personality assessments
- Hold regular class meetings
- Play team-building games with students
6. Employ Class-Building Games & Activities
It’s important to develop the positive relationships with your students; it’s equally important to develop positive relationships among them. One of the best ways to break down the cliques within a classroom & help shy or new students feel a sense of belonging is to engage students in non-competitive games & cooperative learning structures. There are hundreds of resources online & in books that provide thousands of appropriate choices for your grade level.
7. Be Vulnerable
Being much vulnerable develops trust faster than any other approach. Admitting your mistakes shows that you are human & makes you more approachable. It also sends the message that it’s okay to make few mistakes in this classroom. That’s how we learn. Vulnerability & public self-evaluation also help develop a growth mindset culture: We embrace mistakes rather than try to avoid them at all costs. We learn from those mistakes & grow. Make a simple mistake, like spilling a glass of water or misspelling a word on the board, & instead of making excuses, talk about how you are glad you made that mistake because it taught you something.