Classrooms can be the scene of carnage. The kids are uncontrollable and paper aeroplanes are flying everywhere. The sound of screaming drowns everything out. This is what a bad classroom looks like. This is the scene of a negative learning environment! As a teacher, this is your worst nightmare. But it is within your power to change it.
A positive learning environment makes your life simpler. Your students are easier to control and respectful. Their test-scores are higher and they’ll go on to great things. Your personal relationships with each child will grow and you’ll feel pride when they do well. Best of all, you’ll love coming to work every day. All of this is possible with the right learning environment. So, what does that look like?
Thanks to Shan Ran for the image.
A classroom should have strict boundaries. Both you and your students should know exactly where those boundaries are. And the consequences of over-stepping. Rules can feel overbearing but they are the key to a predictable lesson. When there is respect and understanding, your students will work harder and they’ll know when they have crossed a line.
Build personal relationships
Be sure to take note of every single child in your classroom. Greet them by name, ask them how they are. Take an interest in their hobbies. Ask them about their football team or the TV show they love. Building this kind of relationship helps them to feel more comfortable in your classroom. It’ll also build respect because you are speaking to them like an adult. Talking down to children can breed resentment.
Let them express themselves. Obviously, if they show up in inappropriate clothing, it’s a cause for concern. Let them write with their favourite pink Zebrapen gel pen, or wear their hair the way they like. A little leniency for personal expression will create a warmer environment. Your students will be less likely to push the boundaries if they have a small amount of freedom.
Encourage positive relationships in the classroom
Your students should love coming to class. They should enjoy spending time in the company of their friends and peers in the classroom. Do as much as you can to encourage this. Change the layout of the room to facilitate if that will help. Praise and encourage positive interactions between classmates. Shape certain projects around group work and be sure to incorporate those who are often left out. Take a note of the dynamic in your classroom and work to improve it.
Don’t rely on this method though. Many children work better alone so facilitate that as well. A good balance is key to keeping all of your students happy.
This doesn’t mean just asking “has anyone got any questions?” after your half-hour lecture on equations. Stimulate an environment where children aren’t afraid to put their hands up and ask a question. No student should ever feel silly for asking a question and make sure they’re comfortable to do so.
With the right learning environment, your students will thrive. Your job will be easier and you’ll generate great happiness from it. You’ll learn as much from your students as they do from you!