- A classroom lacking a positive culture won’t lead to growth
- Certain pillars–and related strategies–can help teachers create positivity
- See related article: 5 ways to manage students’ screen time
- For more news on classroom culture, see eSN’s Innovative Teaching page
True education is as much about the environment as it is about instruction. That may sound like a bold statement, but it makes sense when you take a moment to consider the evidence. If a child is placed in a classroom that experiences multiple disruptions, has little interpersonal connection, and rarely tries to engage students, they are unlikely to experience much growth. Students require positive environments that strive to build them up both socially and academically. Unfortunately, even the best educators can fall short of this if they don’t understand what positive classroom culture fully entails.
Positive classroom culture functions a lot like a three-legged stool. If one of the legs is removed, the stool becomes unstable. The key for educators is recognizing the three pillars of a positive classroom culture and the unique role they play in shaping student development.
Below are the three pillars of a positive classroom culture, as well as strategies to help teachers get started:
Community: The purpose of community is to foster trust, communication, and understanding.A healthy classroom community welcomes students from all backgrounds and encourages diverse viewpoints – even if students don’t always agree with their classmates’ conclusions.One strategy for building a healthy student community is to utilize images that can be viewed in different ways. Show a picture that could be interpreted in two or more ways (A rabbit or a bird? An old woman or a young one?). Have students share their perspective and then allow for the class to respectfully debate their point of views. As students learn about others and their perspectives around an interpretation of a picture, they will start to become more open to listening to others as they progress through the year.
Content: Content is the actual material taught in the classroom. It’s important to remember that we don’t just disseminate information to students for the sake of memorizing facts. The knowledge they gain from their lessons will go on to be applied in their future lives and careers. As such, it’s vital that students recognize that their learning can make a positive impact on the world around them. One way to accomplish this is through project-based learning. Project-based learning involves lessons that investigate real-world problems while allowing students to dig deeper into the content. This gives them a sense of purpose while incorporating the outside world into their everyday activities. When students know they can make a real difference through their schoolwork, they are more likely to engage with the content, work with others, and persevere through adversity.
Conduct: Students require structure and guidance if they are to grow into mature adults. Things like social awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making are just as essential to student success as reading and algebra. An ideal strategy for helping students control any disruptive behavior is by setting up a Classroom Contract at the beginning of the semester. This allows students to know what is and is not allowed as well as the repercussions for breaking the rules. The twist? Students should be the ones to create this contract (along with help from their teacher). By inviting students to take part in the process, they become invested in their own learning and are more likely to acknowledge the rules since they had a hand in creating them.
By building a classroom where they feel encouraged and empowered, teachers can equip students with the mindset necessary to thrive – both within the classroom and outside of it. Let’s do our part to ensure their time in the classroom is memorable, meaningful, and fun!
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