Creating a Positive Classroom Culture
A positive classroom culture is a place where students know that they have the opportunity to speak, offer ideas and take risks with no judgment. Teachers cultivate healthy classroom environments by focusing on students’ critical thinking skills and are consistent in following essential agreements or rules. Here at Astor international school, students take part in defining the classroom rules. This supports the students in understanding the rationale behind the rules for the classroom and they all come into full agreement about the behaviours expected within the classroom.
Teachers at Astor also use positive reinforcement to promote good behaviour rather than focusing on bad behaviour.
Strategies for developing a positive classroom culture
There are a number of ways for teachers to cultivate a positive classroom culture. These strategies involve both classroom set-up and instructional methods.
1. Essential agreements or consistent rules
At Astor, all students know and understand how they’re expected to behave in class. Essential agreements or classroom rules are displayed in the classroom where students can always access and review them.
Teachers also ensure that essential agreements and classroom rules are enforced consistently for all students. If teachers need to add to the list, they provide a rationale so students understand the reasoning behind that rule.
2. Supporting all voices
There are always students who dominate conversations and a teacher’s job is to ensure that all students, even quiet ones, feel empowered. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean forcing students to participate if they are introverted or socially anxious. At Astor, the teachers provide other means for students’ voices to be heard. For instance, giving students the opportunity to point out their answers or write them out on the board so that they can share their ideas without having to speak out loud. This supports the students in developing self-confidence and knowledge that they have the capability to bring value to classroom discussions.
3. Encourage students’ ideas and concerns
Ask for student input and let them know their ideas or concerns are of value. Here at Astor, students are asked to rate their understanding of a topic so teachers gain insight into how they can support the various students within the classroom. This allows the teachers to gather various resources and support the student's learning based on their varying needs.
Furthermore, when students understand that their opinion has value, they feel more invested in the classroom environment as well as their overall learning. An example would be when the Year 3 students were doing procedural writing, the teacher had planned out for the students to create a fruit salad but they had another idea of creating pizza instead. When the students voiced their opinions, the teacher listened and went ahead with the student’s ideas. The students had such a great learning experience and they went on sharing their experience with many other students as well as their parents.