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Nurturing a positive classroom environment is important for teachers of all subjects and age groups.

As well as making the overall learning experience more enjoyable will help students feel comfortable at school and make them more likely to take intellectual risks.

Indeed, if you ignore the needs of your students and stick too closely to lesson plans, you could end up harming the long-term success of your cohort. So how can you develop a warm and welcoming classroom culture that allows learners to thrive? We’ve put together a short guide to help you out.

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What exactly is positive classroom culture?

Building a productive and happy culture in the classroom means encouraging students to feel safe and letting them know they are part of a team. This means telling students in no uncertain terms that they deserve to feel accepted regardless of their gender, religion, ethnicity, or background. They should also be encouraged to share their worries, concerns, and opinions with their classmates. This will engender an atmosphere of openness and tolerance and could mitigate bullying or social isolation issues.

Why is developing a positive class culture so important?

Maintaining a welcoming and safe classroom will help students reach their full potential. Indeed, if students feel unwelcome and as if they do not belong with their classmates, their grades and personal lives will suffer.

According to research conducted a few years ago, classroom strategies that boost feelings of belonging in certain demographics could reduce the number of students dropping out of school and even boost academic achievement. Ultimately, a culture of positivity and inclusion will empower students to take an active interest in their learning and remind them that they are just as worthy of success as any of their peers.

How can you create a positive classroom culture?

If you are struggling to come up with ways to boost feelings of inclusion and safety in the classroom, you could try out some of the following strategies:

1. Set a list of classroom rules

As soon as the semester starts, it is a good idea to establish a set of simple ground rules with your students. Establishing a contract of mutual respect and positivity with your students will ensure they feel safe and listened to. Start by encouraging students to consider what rules they would like implemented and have a class discussion before writing down the best ones. Good rules could include the following:

  • Listen attentively to every classmate
  • Don’t speak while others are speaking
  • Treat everyone with respect and as you would like to be treated
  • Everyone should take an active stand against bullying behavior

Remember, of course, that as their teacher, you are still an authority figure and have the power to refuse unreasonable rules. For more help with setting rules, check out this article.

2. Encourage students to learn from their mistakes

Every student makes mistakes at some point during their school career. Whether they have dropped a few grades on a test or have said something unkind to a classmate, use their mistake as a teachable moment that they can use to improve their behavior or learning style. Start by asking them to think about the steps they will take to ensure that their mistake does not happen again and keep track of their progress.

3. Take the time to talk to students one-on-one

Taking the time to speak to students individually will help build a classroom culture in which you feel more connected to students and more attuned to any issues they may be facing. As well as encouraging students to open up about any academic or personal issues, your students may also be able to offer some valuable tips on how your teaching practice could be improved. Ask them what they like about school and anything they want to see changed.

4. Alter the classroom set-up

Rearranging your classroom could significantly affect how well your students work together. While there is no rule of thumb when setting up an effective learning space, it is important to understand that the arrangement of tables and chairs could significantly impact classroom dynamics. Ultimately, your task will be one of trial and error. Start by ensuring that students will not feel segregated from classmates and make it your mission to promote diversity and cohesion. This could include elements of your classroom decor, as well as your furniture layout.

5. Give students classroom responsibilities

Offering your students classroom jobs will make them feel part of a team and boost their self-esteem. The tasks do not have to be particularly demanding and could include handing out graded tests, watering the plants, looking after the classroom pet, or holding the door for classmates in the morning. It is also important that you shift the roles regularly so that every student can try something new. Failure to do so may also seem like favoritism on your part.

Finally… remember why you got into teaching

Remember that teaching is a hugely rewarding career that allows you to impact a young person’s life positively. By reminding yourself of this fact regularly, you will radiate positivity in the classroom and help create a welcoming, rewarding, and productive space for all of your pupils.