When you walk into a classroom, often the first thing you notice is the “feel” of the room. That is the classroom culture.
Teachers know that creating a positive classroom culture is vital to having a safe space for students to learn.
Students need a classroom where:
- they feel safe to express their ideas.
- they know it is okay to make mistakes.
- they are invited to ask questions.
- they are able to take ownership of the culture and their learning.
- they know their teacher and classmates care about them.
AKA… a positive classroom culture.
Teachers also know that a positive classroom culture does not always occur naturally. We have to make intentional decisions about how to create a positive learning environment for students.
Here are 6 strategies for creating a positive classroom culture:
1. Greet Students at the Door
Greeting students at the door every day is key to welcoming them to a safe learning environment and positive classroom culture. Whether you greet them with a handshake, smile, or friendly “hello” you should use their name–reminding them they are an important part of the class. When your students enter your classroom they should know that you are glad to see them.
2. Create a Social Contract (with students)
Instead of handing students a list of classroom rules, invite them to join in the conversation about how to make the classroom a positive place for learning to occur. This can be done in many ways depending on what you think will best work for your students. You could start the conversation by defining respect. (What does it mean to be respected by a teacher? To respect our peers? To respect our teacher?) Have students discuss examples and non-examples of behaviors in a safe or positive classroom environment.
3. Have Procedures
Procedures are different than rules. Procedures should be information for students about how to do things in order to succeed in the environment. These are things like how restroom passes work, where they can find materials, what they should do if they are absent, etc. Having a system in place for these day-to-day events gives students a sense of security because they already know what to do in those situations when they come up. It is also good to practice and review these procedures throughout the year. Note: When a procedure is not followed, it is important to address it without getting angry… adults make mistakes and so do students.
4. Share “Good News” Every Day
Take the first 2-3 minutes of class to ask students to share some good news. This is something that can start every class period on a positive note. Asking for students to share good news from their academic or personal life sets the stage for positive interaction and lets you learn about your students’ lives. It is a good idea to begin by first sharing good news in your life and showing that this can be something small (you had an awesome coffee for breakfast) or something big (you won an award).
5. Model Positive Behavior
In order to keep the positive classroom culture going throughout the year, it is important to continue to model positive behavior for your students. Let them see you have positive interactions, conversations, and relationships with students and your colleagues. Use positive and caring tones in your voice when you are talking to your class. Hold yourself accountable in the same way you expect your students to hold themselves accountable. Don’t be afraid to admit when you make a mistake and be sure to apologize when needed.
6. Make Every Day a New Day
Bad days will happen. They will happen with a class or an individual student. The worst thing you can do is carry your frustration over to the next day. Address the issue (with the class or student) and then remind them that every day is a new day. Learn from it and start on a positive note the following day.
Creating a positive classroom culture is the first step to setting up a quality learning environment for your students. Discover what works for you!
Read more about creating a positive classroom culture:
- Capturing Kids’ Hearts-Flippen Group (where many of these strategies came from)
- Building a Positive Classroom Culture and Climate
- Building Positive Classrooms -ASCD
- Positive Action Program
Keep the conversation going…
- How do you create a positive culture in your room?
- What strategies have worked or not worked?
- What advice do you have for new teachers on establishing a positive classroom culture?
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below or sharing it on Facebook or Twitter!