Help Your Students Thrive
Students thrive in environments where they feel safe, nurtured and respected. All students, even those who have learning difficulties and extraordinary personal challenges, can do well when they are physically comfortable, mentally motivated and emotionally supported.
Creating a positive learning environment will optimize student learning, help you build a cohesive classroom community and create a pleasant work environment for both you and your students.
It is especially critical that you work proactively to create a positive learning environment when you have students who are foster children, have suffered abuse or neglect, have transferred schools multiple times, come from disadvantaged backgrounds or have severe academic, social or emotional difficulties.
Follow These 10 Steps
- Get to know each student as a person as soon as possible after meeting them. Have each student complete a survey and/or write a biography. This can give you valuable information that will help you find out who he or she is as a person and how you can best teach and support them.
- Spend time with students individually every day. It’s crucial to make personal connections with your students. They need to know they are important to you.
- Fill your classroom with positive messages and quotes. Make it impossible for students in your classroom to not feel that they are each destined for greatness.
- Provide frequent positive feedback. Let students know that they are doing a good job. Tell them that you notice their efforts and appreciate their hard work. Praise is a powerful positive motivational tool.
- Give students outlets for expression. Create a special place to display student art and writing. Provide a box for students to place slips of paper with concerns written on them. Set up a mailbox where students can send you either signed or anonymous notes about classroom issues.
- Conduct a daily community meeting with students.
- Allow students to make appointments with you to talk privately about overwhelming problems, issues and dilemmas.
- Make it clear that everyone in your classroom is to conduct themselves in a respectable manner, treat others with respect and respect the property of others.
- Make discipline about accountability and growth instead of punishment. Give students who exhibit inappropriate behaviors a place to cool off and calm down. Have them reflect about the unacceptable behavior they engaged in, discuss other ways they could have handled the situation and commit to taking action steps to insure that it will not happen again.
- Do everything you can to make the physical environment of your classroom as comfortable and cheerful as possible. Provide floor cushions, beanbag chairs and inspiring artwork. Clean out your attic, basement or garage. You will probably find tons of items to enliven your classroom collecting dust in those spaces. Local businesses and organizations may be willing to donate furnishings and other materials to help you create a positive learning environment.