Having a positive classroom culture is one of the most important elements of a successful learning environment and thus teachers should actively work towards creating a classroom culture that encourages participation and student success.
The Wingspread Declaration on school connections states that students have more likelihood of success when they feel connected to school. When students feel that adults in the school care about them as people as well as their learning they are more likely to feel connected.
The Declaration, based on a review of research and extensive discussion, found that for this to occur, a school must provide high expectations combined with high levels of support, a focus on positive teacher student relationships and physical and emotional safety. When students are connected academic performance improves, violent and destructive incidents reduce, school attendance improves and more students complete their schooling.
There is strong scientific evidence to show that feeling connected to school is a protective factor for students against disruptive and violent behaviour, mental health issues, disengagement from school, drug use and early sexual experiences.
Here are 6 ways to build a positive classroom climate so your students feel connected to school:
- Have high expectations for your students, for their work and their behaviour. Expect that your students will do well and encourage them by letting them know that you believe in them. Provide appropriate learning support for all students.
- Set up fair and consistent behaviour management processes in your classroom that are agreed upon and understood by the students. Teach students the behaviour you expect, give them opportunities to practice and use positive reinforcement. For more information on how to do this read our blog post entitled “set up the game to win“.
- Focus on building positive relationships with students. Allocate time and energy to listening to your students, getting to know them and letting them get to know you. The magic ratio for positive relationships according to John Gottman the relationship expert is 5 positive interactions: 1 negative. Not sure how to do this? Read some of our articles about building relationships.
- Use effective, evidence based teaching and learning practices. Be prepared for your classes by considering your students and how they best learn. Provide relevant and engaging curriculum, presented in interesting and student-centred ways. The literature review Building Resilience in Children and Young People from Helen Cahill et al, states that school connectedness contributes to positive mental health outcomes for students. The pedagogical characteristics of schools that demonstrate effective connectedness are the use of cooperative learning strategies, hands-on activities and variety of instruction.
- Foster positive relationships with parents so that they share your high expectations for the students and you can work as a team to educate. Remember, parents are their children’s first teachers.
- Encourage positive relationships between students. Model the behaviour you want to see in the way students treat each other. Use respectful language and demand a high standard of relating to one another in the classroom. Explicitly teach students social skills and give them plenty of opportunities to practice.
For more ways to build a positive class culture see here.
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What are your favourite ways to foster a positive classroom culture? Let us know in the comments below!