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Top Tips to Set a Positive Tone for the New School Year

Janelle Cox

 

Around this time of year, classroom management is at the forefront of every teacher's mind. You want to start the school year off fresh, with new expectations and a positive outlook. One aspect of a teacher's job is to create a positive learning environment for their students; a place where students are not judged, and feel comfortable learning. Use the following tips to help you create a year of positivity.

Set the Tone from Day One

Begin the school year with a positive outlook. Do not complain to your colleagues about how many students you have in class or how you hate the grade you’re teaching. Don't complain about trivial things like how you don’t have a refrigerator in your classroom, or how lunch is so late in the day. Start the year off on a positive note. Think to yourself how lucky you are to have a teaching job with the economy the way it is. Be grateful for your health and the health of your students. Start the year by greeting your students with open arms and a big smile.

Create a Prejudice-Free Zone

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When students enter your classroom they must leave all prejudice aside, regardless of how they feel. Tell students it's a requirement that once their feet step into your classroom, they are to leave all thoughts of stereotypes or prejudices at the door. Explain that in your classroom everyone feel safe and accepted for who they are. By implementing this plan of classroom management, it will set a positive tone for the rest of the school year.

The Power of Positivity

Create an atmosphere that would make it impossible for students to feel negative. Display positive quotes and messages around the room so that students are surrounded by optimism.  Create lessons and activities that incorporate positive messages. You'll find that your students will learn to treat others with respect, as well as conduct themselves in a respectable manner.

Create an Outlet for Expression

Start the year off right by giving students the opportunity to express their needs or concerns in a positive way. Provide students with an anonymous box where they can address any concerns or thoughts they may have in a constructive fashion. Have students keep personal journals and provide writing activities that allow students to have a positive outlet of their expressions.

Build a Classroom Community

Creating a classroom community through positive ways of classroom management is a great way for students to positively relate to their peers. It gives children the confidence to make positive relationships, and provides them with the opportunity to have respectful interactions with their peers. During the few weeks of school, introduce students to their new classroom environment, and you will see they will slowly begin to feel a sense of community. 

Make Personal Connections

One way to set a positive tone in your classroom is to create a personal relationship with each one of your students. Learn their names quickly and take the time to get to know each individual student. Plan an icebreaker or getting-to-know you activity where you will learn more about the child's personal life. When you show your students that you are invested in getting to know them on a personal level, it will show that you value and respect them. This will help you in creating a positive learning environment in your classroom.

Make Discipline about Accountability

Oftentimes teaches focus on what students are doing wrong, and punish them without giving the student the opportunity to reflect on their behavior. Give students the time to cool off and think about what they have done. Then take the time to calmly discuss how they could have gone about the situation in a more positive way. Model the steps they should have taken to ensure the situation doesn’t occur in the future.

In order for all students to thrive it is essential that teachers create a positive learning environment -- especially for the students who have suffered neglect, come from disadvantaged backgrounds, or are new to the school. Students thrive in an atmosphere where they are respected, feel safe, and are loved. When teachers create this kind of positive environment for their students, it is easier for each child to reach his/her full potential.

How do you set a positive tone in your classroom? What do you find works best in your room? Please feel free to share with us in the comment section below.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who draws on her 15 years of professional experience in the education system. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Guide to Elementary Education for About.com, where she provides educational information and lesson plans for teachers across the United States.