My number 1 tip for teachers as we plan to head back into the classroom is my favorite thing most of all. It’s all about developing a positive classroom climate that fosters respect, understanding, and an environment that encourages learning in the most open way.
#1 Setting Up A Positive Classroom Climate: There are several reasons why it’s smart for teachers to spend a little extra time helping to grow their positive classroom climates early in the year. The main reason is probably that a positive climate means less behavioral problems. If all students feel listened to and accepted, you will be able to spend more time teaching and less time putting out fires. Also, a positive climate really allows for students to take risks. In turn, this just means kids will be more open and willing to learn. What teacher doesn’t absolutely love when they see that reserved student stepping outside their comfort zone? With a great classroom climate, it can happen.
One simple step to developing a positive climate is arranging your room with lots of positive reminders. Simple posters of encouragement can go a long way. You can make them into a bulletin board or just have them arranged around the room. Don’t only have them up on the walls, though. Use them during teachable moments. For example, you might say, “I really like how I saw Sam help Greg pick up his papers when they fell on the ground, even though it meant they were last to get in line. That is doing the right thing.” Then, you can point to a poster that highlights doing the right thing. Many kids will see and hear this and want to step up to the plate to do the same.
Another strategy is to make sure you encourage and reward kindness and courtesy for others. Have special kindness slips or student shout-outs in a spot in the room. Teach that kids can fill these forms out to record and give credit when they see someone doing something nice. Kids might fill them out when someone loans them a pencil, someone helps them on a math problem, asks them to play outside at recess. It’s up to you whether or not you want to give tangible rewards for this, such as a weekly or monthly drawing for a special prize or privilege. You don’t even have to give any specific rewards, though. Just make sure you spend time reading and giving credit to those who are kind to others.
Giving lots of group, partner, and collaboration time among peers is also so critical. Rearrange groups frequently so that ALL students learn to work together. Have it be part of the routine that groups switch up on a regular basis. The goal is that all students in your classroom not only work together as classmates, but function as a family. When you have a class that functions in this way, it really makes the learning community such a positive place for all kids (and adults)!
Check out my all my back to school planning tips:
- #1 Back to School Planning Tip: Making a Positive Classroom Climate
- #2 Back to School Planning Tip: Getting to Know You Activities
- #3 Back to School Planning Tip: Instructional Planning
- #4 Back to School Planning Tip: Getting Organized
- #5 Back to School Planning Tip: Bulletin Boards