5 Ways to Create A Positive Learning Environment In Your Classroom
The term positive learning environment may make you think of the physical aspects of a classroom, such as posters, displays and overall design. Whilst this remains a fundamental aspect, a positive learning environment encapsulates much more.
Firstly there’s the physical (mentioned above), then secondly and thirdly there is the social and emotional environments. These elements are harder to pinpoint but they’re just as important in creating a unified, positive classroom space for pupils to learn and develop. As a teacher, you are responsible for helping to foster a positive learning environment which will act as the preliminary building blocks for further success.
Outline Classroom Rules for Positive Behaviour
Developing and employing clear classroom rules is often the first step to developing a positive learning environment. Rules should be directly informed by the core values of a school and all classrooms should be closely following the same guidelines during lesson time. This helps to create a unified school where all pupils in it are aware of what’s expected of them and how they should behave.
As the term positive learning environment suggests, It’s important to design your rules in a positive light. Instead of saying “don’t disrespect other students” for example, you instead say “all students in class will be respected at all times”. Simple language adjustments such as this will build confidence in students and help to create an environment free from negativity that may harm self esteem and individual confidence.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is a great way to build intrinsic motivation and help promote positive student work habits. As mentioned previously, the importance of using positive language cannot be overstated. The language and dialogue you use in the classroom should guide and enlighten your students rather than working against them. Always ensure that a student is aware of wrongdoing or incorrect work and clearly present a new, positive way to avoid it in future.
Utilising a rewards system is also a great way to positively reinforce the behaviour of your classroom. A reward doesn’t have to be a physical object and the handing out process doesn’t need to be complicated. Simple praise is often enough to instil confidence and belief in a student and ensure a positive mindset is developed.
It’s important to remember that any rewards should be completely personalised to the individual. All students and their abilities are completely different and so rewarding them should reflect this. What is seen as progressive or positive for one student may be different from another. Take time to celebrate even the smallest of wins for learners who are sometimes reluctant to participate in class.
Stay Informed on Educational Research
New educational research is being carried out all the time and we are always bettering our understanding of child behaviour in school. It’s important to stay up to date with research and always make time to try new techniques to help with child development.
For example, researchers recently outlined the level of parent participation has a direct impact on positive learning environments. The study found that schools characterised by high levels of parent networking had higher overall percentages of students with at or above standards in maths and reading.
From this research, one policy to implement would be to strategize with colleagues or school administration about additional ways to get parent and guardian cooperation. Encourage parents to visit school, request feedback and nurture all parent teacher relationships fully.
Prioritise Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
The well-being of students and teachers alike has been pushed to the forefront in recent years. Social-emotional learning – or SEL – can help students understand emotions and navigate their school life easier. It builds the knowledge and self-awareness needed to cope with life’s challenges and teaches students how to develop healthy relationships with peers.
Social-emotional learning can be taught through many different mediums within a classroom. Art is an effective way of allowing students to emotionally express themselves and can be structured in a way that prompts emotional responses. Run lessons looking at art of all mediums and challenge students to say how it made them feel or what it made them think of.
Another popular method of teaching social-emotional learning is to regularly incorporate mindfulness into your classroom. Get students to practise breathwork and take time to analyse their own thoughts and feelings. Even doing this for a short period of ten minutes helps a student to identify frustrations that may manifest into negative behaviour.
Plan Lessons with Motivation in Mind
Finding new ways to make certain topics more fun and interactive can vastly improve the learning environment in the classroom. Integrating game-based learning activities such as Prodigy Math can be a great way to promote fun, positive learning and create a stronger bond between teacher and students. Learning based games take the laboriousness out of learning, helps to get all students involved at once and positively affect classroom motivation levels.
Make learning more enjoyable and boost motivation by injecting fun into the learning environment. Use humour on a regular basis, be dramatic about a subject and utilise props where necessary. Connect your subject matter to real life classroom scenarios and engage with students through physical activities. Remaining current is also an effective way to make learning fun and builds stronger relationships with students – this could include using memes or making pop-culture references.
It’s also really important to remember that school doesn’t always have to be about learning facts and figures. Pressure to focus solely on purely academic material can mount and it often leads to burnout. Find time to have fun with your students and allow space and time to develop other key skills such as communication and problem solving.
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