A positive learning environment for children is vital to the success of your classroom. If the learning environment is not positive, curriculum can become monotonous and instruction teacher-focused rather than student-centred. Design a positive learning environment for your students by setting up norms, enforcing consistent consequences and reinforcing positive behaviour.
Say “please” and “thank you” to students. We should not take these words for granted anymore and keep in mind the importance of giving respect in order to earn respect. We should use these words in tests, homework, worksheets, presentations etc. When you say “thank you” for an answer given by a student, it shows you heard him and appreciated him, even if the answer is wrong.
Listen to Students. Students need our attention. We should be very careful that while listening to the students we are not physically turning away, sighing, frowning, rolling our eyes, talking to someone else or looking away. We show people how much they matter through our body language, whether we mean it or not. Body language can make a difference in the classroom.
Welcome every answer – right or wrong. Instead of students going through the process of their own mind-boggling, we want them to read our mind. Don’t set kids up for failure by just getting one wrong answer from them. In order to enhance learning, don’t damage the students’ self-esteem. When students start getting t all the wrong answers, they start to think something is wrong with them. Ask open-ended questions to promote divergent thinking. Ask “What do you think?” instead of “Why?” Say, “That’s not exactly what I’m looking for” instead of “Wrong answer.”
Allow positive feedback. Write each student’s name at the top pass the blank papers. All students have to write honest, positive comments about each other. Read and discuss. Ask students to sign their names next to the comment to keep a check on their participation and positive attitude.
Establish expectations. You may be able to avoid many classroom management issues, if you establish your expectations regarding student behaviour early and keep them consistent. Laying down the ground rules early in your relationship with a class is quintessential to your achievement as a teacher. Your goal should be to involve your students in this task to ensure that they are aware of the rules and the consequences. There is another way to add to the ambience of your classroom – post the ground rules and always lean towards the positive, rather than negative reinforcing them throughout the session. When a student does not follow the rules, posting something on the wall will likely affect the entire class in a negative way, but posting something for each student, who did adhere to the rules, serves the opposite.
Set the tone for class. Teachers set the tone for the classroom setting. They are responsible for setting the tone of the class. If as a teacher you make an effort to be even-tempered, fair with your students and equitable in rule enforcement then you have set a high standard for your classroom. Of the many factors that have an effect on a classroom environment, your behaviour is the one factor that you can completely control.
Adjust your personality. The characteristics of your personality affect the classroom environment. Are you humorous? Are you able to take a joke? Are you sarcastic? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? All of these and other personal characteristics will stand out in your classroom and affect the learning environment. It is therefore important that you take stock of your traits and make adjustments if necessary.
Solve difficult student behaviour. t has been found that disruptive students can really affect the classroom environment. It is vital that you place a firm discipline policy that you enforce on a daily basis. The key is that the teacher should learn to nip in the bud – stop the problems before they start by moving students or diffusing situations before they begin. However, it is difficult when you have that one student who always seems to push your buttons. Use all the resources available at your disposal including mentors, student counsellors, parent teacher meeting and if necessary seek help from the administration to keep the situation under control.
Create seating chart. Laura Stanley, a secondary school teacher in the UK, shares her thoughts about creating effective learning environment and using seating charts:
“Sticking to the seating plan is the best, simplest way to remember names. When you ask a question, use the plan to address the responding student personally. There’s no quick way to learn names, especially in a class of 30-thirty identically-dressed 11-eleven year olds. You’ll hear some staff saying things like ‘I always test myself to make sure I know all of my students’ names by the end of the first week’. Ignore them. There will be some names you still don’t know till the end of the session and this is normal. Your school should have a system with children’s contact details on and it will most likely have a photo. You can use this when you write reports.”
Assign classroom jobs for students. Primary and secondary classroom teachers can find a variety of jobs for their students. When you assign jobs to your students, you allow them to feel needed and important. Moreover, you get a helping hand in keeping your classroom running smoothly.
Here are some duties to get you started. The teacher can give the jobs fun, age-appropriate names like Hygiene Manager for tidying up the room or Foreign Ambassador to welcome visitors and new students:
- Students can collect and distribute papers.
- Answer the door, turn off/on lights when required.
- Keep the classroom library in order.
- Take the roll call.
- Keep the classroom clean at the end of a class period or the end of the day.
- Keep time to make sure that students (and you) stay on track.
- Attend the class phone or run errands to the office.
Use non-verbal cues to keep students on track. Some ways to change behaviour without stopping instruction which redirects negative behaviour and reinforces positive behaviour – all without saying a word.
- Musical Strategy: Wind up a music box at the beginning of class. The moment students begin to get noisy or off the track, open the music box, until the behaviour stops. If there is any music left at the end of the day, offer the class a reward.
- Hands Up: Raise your hand to show the students that they need to focus on you. When students see that you have raised your hand, Each one should raise their hand until the entire class has hands raised and are paying attention.
- Lights: Switch off the lights to get students silent.
- Proximity: If a student is being troublesome, walk over to the student’s desk and stand next to the student, until the behaviour has ceased. If this doesn’t work, put a hand on their desk or the back of their chair.
- Recognise positive behaviour: Give a smile, a high five in the air, a sticker or “good work” sticky note.
Useful Tips for Managing the Classroom
- For movement and interaction organize the physical space of your classroom. To do small group work, make it easy for students to pull their desks together. Set it up in such a way that it is easy for you to walk around. You have thus created a classroom environment in which your movement around the classroom helps to make your teaching more engaging. This will also helps in classroom control.
- One way to make the classroom safe for the students is make them participate and ask questions. No matter what a student says, make it a habit to react with respect. The best way is to model respect for your students and teach them to show respect for one another.
- When you teach place mirrors next to the dry erase board and the chalk board so that even when you have to turn your back to write on the board, you can still keep an eye on students.
- Ask your students to write on the board for you. It persuades students to be directly involved It helps them build up a basic skill –writing so that others can read what they write and most importantly it will save your time and energy and allow you to face your students which helps in good classroom control especially when you’re using active teaching methods that invite student participation. Students involved in the activity are not going to be quiet, hence enabling you to monitor their behaviour and keep things orderly. Keeping the students engaged in learning in the long run will make your teaching more effective.
Putting together a classroom with the above thoughts in mind will create an environment where your students will thrive. They will feel concerned and responsible for their own learning as well as comfortable enough to actively participate in individual and group activities. Your encouraging reinforcement permits them to build self-esteem and be more successful students which will of course make you a successful teacher!