Whether you’re an elementary school teacher or an AP high school teacher, your top priority remains the same: your students. In order for them to succeed well beyond your classroom, they need to work in a positive learning environment.
Setting your classroom up for success will allow students to stay motivated and engaged throughout the year and during every lesson. From day one, you need to establish rules and guidelines that create a safe space for your students to learn and grow. Below, you’ll find some tips to create a successful classroom.
Create a Class Constitution
A class constitution is just like it sounds—a list of rules that students must abide by. Creating a class constitution is a great way to start off the school year and teach a valuable history lesson. You can discuss why countries, states, and localities establish a set of rules to create a functional society that is safe and fair, and also give your students a say in the rules. Doing so will hold them accountable, and if a rule is broken, they’ll know why.
To create a class constitution, follow these steps:
- On your interactive whiteboard or sheet of chart paper, write some of your rules that can’t be broken no matter what, such as “No Bullying,” “Be On Time,” and “Treat Everyone With Respect.”
- Next, give your students 5 minutes to write down their own ideas for ideas.
- After 5 minutes, have students come up to the board and write down their rules.
- Once all ideas are up, go over them as a class. Condense any repeated or similar rules and take a vote on the rest of the rules.
- Once you’ve created a list, post the Class Constitution in the front of the room for the remainder of the year for students to see and reflect upon.
As an educator, you most likely heard the name Maslow and his “Hierarchy of Needs.” These human needs are listed in an order resembling a pyramid. If needs from one level aren’t met, a human can’t grow to the next level. The bottom-most basic needs of the pyramid are psychological needs, including food, water, and air. Above that are security needs followed by love and belonging, and esteem. The top need is self-actualization, where people strive to become the best they can be.
The goal for teachers is for their students to strive to become the best they can be, but this can’t be accomplished if their other needs, including security, aren’t met. That’s why you need to create a positive classroom environment where students feel safe.
To do so, you need to establish safety protocols that make students feel comfortable enough to move on to their next needs, such as creating friendships and building esteem. This can be done by:
- Enforcing the rules listed on your classroom’s constitution
- Monitoring behavior online to prevent cyberbullying through web filtering and online safety lessons
- Having open lines of communication for students to talk through problems in a safe way
Not every learner is the same, which is why you need to create lessons that can be adaptable to all types of learners, such as kinesthetic, visual, and auditory. Rather than having students sit and read from a textbook for an hour, implement different activities throughout the lesson that teach the same material but in different ways. This will work different parts of your students’ brains and encourage creativity in the classroom.
An engaging activity is a Socratic Seminar where students read a text, have a formal discussion, and ask questions. Other activities include KWL charts, learning stations, and think-pair-share.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
While you may prefer the traditional teaching method where the teacher is front and center, times are changing. Technology is an integral part of everyone’s life, so you either have to adapt or fail. Many classrooms are now equipping their students with Google Chromebooks, tablets, and laptops, as e-Learning is becoming more prevalent. This is a great way for you to create unique lessons that promote learning and teach 21st-century skills. With screen-sharing, you can demonstrate tasks to students, promote student-teacher engagement, and improve collaboration.
Another great technological activity you can implement is Mystery Skype. This allows students to interact with a classroom somewhere across the globe. The goal is for each classroom to find each other’s location by asking questions and researching. There are plenty of creative ways you can use technology in the classroom to your advantage.
Creating a safe learning environment that promotes creativity can be done in a few simple steps. As the school year nears, use these tips to ensure your pupils reach their full potential.