Teachers have many things to think about; but an important aspect of the job is to create a positive learning environment. Here are a few tips on how to make sure your classroom is all it can be.
When your students walk into your classroom at the beginning of the year (and every day thereafter), what do they see and feel? More directly, are you setting the tone for a positive learning environment?
Teachers have plenty of responsibilities in the classroom; they must create lesson plans and organize everything from papers to pencils. While these tasks are highly important, it is also important that the teacher take seriously their responsibility to also create a learning environment in which his or her students will thrive.
In a positive learning environment, students, staff and parents work together to bring about peaceful classrooms where everyone feels respected, safe and accepted, and where the main focus is on learning. A teacher’s responsibility is to make students feel at ease when they are in the classroom; encouraging them to open up and engage in the learning process.
There are several ways in which a teacher can enable students to succeed in their classroom; but everything stems from the tone he or she sets with their enthusiasm. When the teacher is not openly enthusiastic about what they are teaching, students will have a hard time getting excited about lesson plans and assignments. It is important, therefore, that the teacher do whatever is necessary to get excited about their lessons and about learning.
How the teacher feels radiates into the classroom environment. With this in mind, a teacher should make sure they do what it takes to feel good about themselves as well as about their lessons. Just about every teacher wears a lanyard to hold their identification or classroom keys. Lanyards are ropes worn around the neck; and typically, a lanyard does not reflect any particular style. This does not have to be the case, and a few decorative and cheery lanyards in a teacher’s wardrobe can make everyone feel more at ease and enthused. Such a simple tool, the lanyard; and yet such a difference it can make in putting the teacher in a good mood.
Coming to work while stressed is damaging to both teacher and student. A 2002 Yoon study suggested "negative teacher-student relationships were predicted by teacher stress. Significant correlations were found among negative effect, teacher stress and negative relationships"(p.486). Making even small changes such as going for a walk after work to let go of stress can amount to significant changes in the classroom environment.
Further ways to create a positive learning environment are:
• Make sure students respect one another by teaching them to help rather than laugh at one another. Participating in class can be stressful for a student, especially when they are unsure of themselves. Consistently point out to students that they should keep in mind how they would like to be treated; and should treat others that way.
• When it is necessary to correct a student’s answers, do so in a positive manner. Always start with a positive statement; praise them for trying.
• Always make eye contact and speak in an upbeat tone with students. When addressing individuals, or when teaching a lesson, call students by name. This makes them feel that you know and care about them.
Emily Suess, who loves creating customized lanyards and a graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, writes about recent school trend topics like conference tips and college issues. She has worked for over seven years as a freelance writer/editor and is now focusing on early childhood education. Her works have been published in Children’s Digest magazine and Indiana Insight magazine as well as on the web.