To learn, students need to feel safe and relaxed. Creating an environment that is characterized by respect and positivity will enhance self-esteem and make the classroom a place where students feel secure. There are a number of ways teachers can foster the type of classroom environment that’s welcoming to everyone.
Build a strong community
Include strategies, such as Save the Last Word For Me, that encourage discussion, allow students to express their thoughts and grow relationships. This discussion technique prompts classroom interaction and helps to develop thoughtful conversations. It helps students share their ideas and builds a sense of emotional safety.
Laugh and smile
Not everything has to be taken seriously all of the time. Remember to crack a smile and show your students that you’re having a good time. Regular smiles and laughter builds relationships and allows everyone to share their feelings.
Acknowledge student contributions
Praising your students for their hard work by putting it up on the walls shows to them they’re valued. This also means listening to their thoughts and comments. When students feel their voice holds an important place and that opposing views are treated with respect, they begin to feel empowered and participation increases.
Admit when you don’t know
Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know the answer. Your students will appreciate your humanity. Simply saying, “I’m not sure. Does anyone else know or want to look it up?” can be a really powerful gesture.
Make it known that everyone in your class is to be treated with mutual respect, which includes you, the authority figure.
Some days will be harder than others. Do your best to keep a positive attitude. Students can easily sense when the teacher is unhappy. Let the good vibes roll and it will transfer to your students.
Circulate the room
Make your rounds and circle the room often to get a feel for what’s happening throughout the classroom. Getting out from behind your desk also provides a great opportunity to overhear students collaborating and posing questions you might be able to discuss with the entire class.
This sends a real message to your students that you are reading, understanding and figuring out what is being said. It allows for real dialogue with students. Plus they love to help teachers when they need it, too.
Stick to your bottom lines
Some teachers call these absolutes. These are two or three principles that result in immediate action if students ignore them. For instance, certain words or behavior result in an absolute consequence. Establish bottom lines with your students at the beginning of the year. If necessary, create posters or show videos that help remind students of these rules and expectations.
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