By Teachers, For Teachers
Creating a classroom environment where all students feel welcome, valued and cared for is what every teacher wants to have, and what every parent hopes and dreams their child has: a Place that encourages positive social interactions that support the developmental skills of the child. We also want to use teaching strategies to create a place where all the students feel safe, inspired, and educated. Unfortunately, for many classrooms, structuring a positive classroom environment means students showing up to school eager to work, then going home ready to do even more homework. Many teachers are so busy trying to make sure that all of their students pass their tests that they forget that creating a positive atmosphere is much more than just passing a test. It’s using teaching strategies to make sure that not just the academic needs of the students are met, but the social and emotional ones are as well. By implementing a few teaching strategies you can ensure that you are creating a positive classroom atmosphere that supports the child academically, socially, and emotionally.
The first effective strategy for structuring a positive classroom is to teach the students positive behavior. Oftentimes teachers just assume that their students already know this, but unfortunately many students do not. This is where character education comes into play. Many school districts choose to implement a character education program that focuses on positive actions for getting along with others (being kind and respectful), for being honest (taking responsibility and admitting when you are wrong), and for self-management (managing your time and emotions). In addition to that, they teach students positive actions for taking care of the body, and the mind, as well as how to improve themselves (creating goals and having ambitions). By teaching students all of these positive actions and behaviors, you will in turn create a positive classroom.
In order to structure a positive classroom, you must create a classroom code of conduct. Students need a firm understanding of what you deem are positive and negative behaviors. Together as a class, you can brainstorm a list of these behaviors. The list can include what is respectful, fair, kind, etc. Then once you have your list and you all agree upon it, you can create a classroom code of conduct, where all students are required to sign the list. This code will help to ensure that you will have a positive classroom community.
Another effective strategy is to help students learn to instill intrinsic motivation. This means students need to be able to feel good about themselves without the help from anyone but themselves. The easiest way to teach students this is to explain to them that they have the ability to change the way they think. Every person has the option to change a negative thought into a positive one. Tell students that anytime a negative thought comes into your mind, you need to change it to a positive thought, which will then lead into a positive action. In time, and with a little practice, students will reap the benefits.
Find out what your students’ talents, interests, and learning styles are. Then offer them some say on what they would like to learn, and how they would like to learn it. By adjusting your teaching methods to incorporate your students’ wants and needs, you are giving them some control. And, everyone knows how it feels when you are in control. By letting students have a say, you are therefore increasing their sense of ownership in the classroom. This will help build a sense of community within your classroom.
Recognize any and all positive actions that you see in your classroom. You can do this with something as simple as your spoken word, or you can use a tangible reward like a token, stickers, candy, a certificate, a homework pass, or whatever you feel will show the students that what they are doing is positive. It’s important to note that students need to connect how they feel with how they did on their performance. This will help the positive behavior continue in the future.
These five strategies will help you create and build a positive classroom environment where all students feel safe, warm, and welcome. While it may not happen in a day, with a little time and patience, you can build an environment that is positive.
Do you have any teaching strategies or suggestions for positive classrooms that you would like to share with us? Please feel free to leave your comments in the section below, we would love to hear what you have to say on the topic.
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 a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. 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.