By Teachers, For Teachers
The start of the New Year means you get the opportunity to have a fresh start. If your classroom was lacking anything before you left for Christmas break, now that you are back, it is the time to change that.
Creating a safe and supportive classroom atmosphere is essential for any classroom, but it is also one of the hardest tasks that teachers have. If you’re looking to see some changes in your classroom this year, try building a positive learning environment where all student thrive - that is the key to any successful classroom. Here are five classroom activities that you help you do just that.
If you find that your students need to slow down, try some mindful breathing. Many studies show that just taking a few minutes to slow down and listen to yourself breathe can help students let go of any anxiety, stress, or negative emotions. At some point in the day, ask students to put away their materials, turn the lights off, and have them sit comfortably and quietly. Tell students to take a moment and notice how their body feels. Have them pay attention to their breath and the way that they breathe naturally. Have them notice each inhale and exhale coming in and out of their body. If students have a hard time concentrating on their breath, then they can count each inhale and exhale up the number 10 and then keep starting over. This will help them pay attention to their breathing. You can do this mindful breathing activity for about three to five minutes each day and you will see your students will feel refreshed.
If you find that students are too fidgety for mindful breathing, then your next best bet is to get them up and moving with a quick brain break. Much like mindful breathing, a brain break is meant to re-energize and refocus students so that they are able to learn in a positive classroom environment. Have them dance their wiggles out, play a quick game, or do a few yoga poses. As soon as you notice students getting fidgety, get them up and moving and you will quickly see all of that pent-up energy slowly melt away.
If you want to build trust and support with your students, then you need to actively listen to them. Just as teachers want to be heard by their administrators, students want to be heard from you, their teacher. Studies have found that strong student/teacher relationships are the key to a healthy school atmosphere. So, how can you actively listen to your students? Easy, all you have to do is create the time and space to actively listen to their wants and needs.
Try this: Each week, carve out a few minutes out of your day for each student. All you have to do is check in with them and see how they are doing. This will give students the opportunity to get anything off their chest, as well as give you the opportunity to make a connection and really get to know them a more personal level. This newfound connection that you are making with each and every one of your students will help build that positive classroom environment that you are looking for.
Oftentimes, teachers get burned out because the lack of support they feel they are getting from their administration. Luckily, researchers are now finding that the solution to feeling teacher burnout may be found in the relationships that we have. When we feel safe and secure, we are more likely to help others, like our students. As teachers, we can take this information from research, and utilize it with our students. If you want to help your students, support them in everything that they do.
When a student needs emotional support in your classroom, it can really turn their world upside down. Take a moment to show them that you are there for them. If a student needs academic support, give them everything that you have to show them that you are there for them and that they can succeed.
Using these research-based activities for cultivating student well-being is the key to a successful, positive classroom climate. They encourage students to connect, relax, and value one another. While it may seem like a process at first, give it some time and you will see the changes happen.
How do you build a positive environment in your classroom? Do you have any tips or activities that you would like to share? Please leave your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear them!
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.