By Teachers, For Teachers
The rapport between students is just as important as the rapport between a student and her teacher. In today’s classrooms, students come in many different shapes and sizes, and from different cultures and backgrounds. These differences can either make difficult situations arise in class, or they allow for students to form concrete relationships where they respect one another. In order to ensure that you have a classroom culture of respect, then you must use classroom management to build a culture that is respectful to all. Here are a few classroom management tips on how to create a positive classroom where all students feel comfortable and are respected.
The first step to creating a classroom culture of respect is to establish some rules on the first day that you meet your students. Model what a respectful classroom is, and looks like, so that students know and understand one another. Show students how they can respect one another and tell them why it’s important. Establish some ground rules that will help create a welcoming classroom. Once you set the tone for the classroom with rules for being respectful, you can try playing a few icebreaker activities that will help to get the students mingling with one another.
The next step is to create a welcoming classroom environment where students feel safe and comfortable to speak their mind and collaborate with their peers; a place where students are free to take risks and not afraid to make mistakes. When students feel comfortable enough to speak their minds, they will take risks and not be afraid to make mistakes. When you don’t have a welcoming environment where students feel respected, then taking risks and making mistakes can be embarrassing for students.
Structure your classroom so that the desks are not in rows but in a circle or a U-shape. Position the desks so students are able to easily collaborate with their peers. If the desks are movable, then try changing the formation every few days or weeks to allow for easy communication and collaboration among students. Hang photographs and display student work throughout the room. This will make the classroom feel homey and welcoming.
When students feel good about themselves, then they are more likely to be kind and respectful to others. Try and play up your students’ strengths to help build their confidence. If you know that one of your students is a natural-born leader, then put them in charge of the group. If you know that another student is a really great artist, then ask them to be in charge of the artwork for their group project. Whatever it is that each of your students do particularly well, play that up. When your students feel good about themselves, then they will pass that on to their peers, and in turn you will have a classroom where all is respectful to one another.
Creating an opportunity for a little competition among peers will not rupture the classroom dynamic or make it a place where students won’t respect one another. Actually, it’s the exact opposite of that -- competition brings students together faster. When students work together to meet a common goal, they are communicating and collaborating with one another, therefore they have to respect each other in order to meet their goal. Try mixing it up and putting together competitive teams of students who are completely different from one another. You will see how they must work together in order to reach and complete their task. Once the competition is over, you will see the dynamic in your classroom change. Students who may have never talked to one another will now have a newfound respect for each other.
To help break down the barriers in your classroom, find time to let students learn from one another. If one or more of your students is from a different culture, let them talk about their culture and share about their lives. The more that the students hear about their classmates’ lives, the easier it will be for them to respect them. Find time to let students get to know each other. While you may have had students partake in getting-to-know you games in the begging of the school year, keep that going throughout the year. Find different ways for students to learn more about one another on a deeper level. The more your classmates get to know one another, the closer they will be.
Respect is the foundation of a successful classroom. When you create a classroom culture of respect, a place where students feel safe and respected, then you will not only decrease disciplinary issues, but you will increase students motivation. Students will feel comfortable to speak, participate, collaborate and share with their peers.
How do you use classroom management to build an environment of respect? Do you have any tips to share? Feel free to comment down below, we would love to hear what you have to say.
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 Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.