Building a positive classroom environment is one of the most important factors to student learning. When a student’s learning environment is supportive and positive, they can feel a sense of belonging, feel encouraged to tackle challenges, and asks questions. We have found several ways to influence a positive change in the classroom.
Student Centered Code of Conduct
One of the ideas we love is instead of presenting students with a list of rules on the first day is involving them in creating the rules with you. We find that emphasizing the importance of how they are treating each other should be set as a foundation. Then, by using a creative response or word seed poll in ClassFlow, have students share their ideas for the classroom code of conduct. While students are entering their responses, you could explain the importance of positive behaviors such as kindness, sharing, respect, empathy, and preparation. Teachers tell us that when students participate in this process, they feel a sense of ownership for their classroom code of conduct and a choice in developing a classroom they want to learn in.
Be a Positive Influence
Building a positive classroom starts with its leader, you. Consider holding yourself to the same classroom code of conduct and model behaviors you wish to instill in their behaviors. Modeling is key. If you really want to see students behave a certain way under your supervision, we believe its pertinent for them to see the same behaviors from you.
Reward Positive Behaviors
In order to affect positive change in the classroom, research has also found that praising and rewarding students is a simple, yet a meaning and powerful way to engage and motivate students to be on their best behavior. Using ClassFlow’s Badges, you can reward students on specific and directed behaviors that are are trying to reinforce. Participation, for example, may be difficult to manifest and control if not dealt with properly. When a student appropriately indicates that they would like to speak and does so in a polite manner, you may reward them with a custom badge that you can create on ClassFlow.
Consider letting the student know why you are rewarding them the badge. By the end of the week, whomever has the most badges or points, can receive a reward! Have a classroom full of older students? Try stickers. You be surprised how motivated they can be to decorated their binder.
Establish the Normality of Mistakes
Mistakes are a normal part of life and can be an excellent source of learning. But for some people, especially students, educators find that making mistakes comes with unwanted emotions such as anxiety and stress in the classroom. Based on what teachers have said, we find it is important to instill on students that only once they have made a mistake can they find a way to learn and change. Mistakes, such as on assessments and assignments, should be followed up with feedback to ensure students learn and understand from those errors. After your students complete and submit an assignment or assessment on ClassFlow, you can leave feedback that students can learn upon. This is a quick and easy way for you to not only grade, but as a learning point, for each individual student.
Another example of helping students learn the normality of mistakes is during a polling activity. If a students makes an error, you can point it out and explain to the rest of the class that “you are so glad that someone made this error, you are giving me the chance to talk about…”. Build the normality of making mistakes. We are all living and learning.
No matter how old your students are, we find that they want to feel they have a strong and positive relationship with their teacher. Building rapport takes time and effort, but can only build a more positive classroom. In order to build these relationships, you can take interests in their hobbies and interests. Go to their dance recitals and soccer games. One of the ideas one of our advocates shared is to even give students a way to anonymously give feedback on a lesson or a concern they may have in the classroom. Giving students this way to express themselves shows that you respect and appreciate their opinions and input, which, we find, can go a long way to affecting your classroom.