Classroom environments should promote student achievement. This lesson will explore how a safe and supportive learning environment is created and maintained.
Positive Learning Environment
You have just planted a beautiful flower garden in your backyard. What would happen if you planted the flowers where they receive too much sunlight? What if you do not water the flowers? In either case, it is unlikely that the flowers would grow well. Do you blame the flowers for this? Of course not, you know that the flowers were not provided the right conditions to thrive.
A classroom is a lot like your flower garden. If you take care of your students, they will succeed. Students must feel protected and be nurtured if they are going grow their abilities. You want your students to feel relaxed and safe. You want to encourage participation. In short, you want the classroom to be a positive environment for them.
How do you foster a positive learning environment in your classroom? To answer this question, let's look at what you should do before the students arrive, when you meet the students, and how to maintain a safe and supportive learning environment after it has been established.
Before Students Arrive
If we want our garden to grow, we must plan it out before we start. We have to ensure that the soil is good. We need to know the proper amount of sunlight our plants should receive. Once you know what you need and how you plan to do it, you are then ready to begin planting.
The same idea is true of developing a safe and supportive learning environment. Before the students arrive, you must have a plan. The first step to this plan is being organized. Imagine how a new student might feel if they walk into a classroom not knowing where to go or what to do. You can help ease this initial stress though good organization of the physical environment and your classroom procedures.
A teacher must be proactive about organizing the physical environment. Materials should be easy to locate and put away neatly. It should be easy to identify different areas of the classroom. If you are teaching younger children it is important to label their personal areas. You should also be able to easily supervise students in any area of the room.
Additionally, it is important to establish what your classroom procedures are before the students arrive. Make sure the students have answers to the following questions: How will I know what my assignments are? Where do I turn in homework? What is expected of me when I come into the classroom? Students will feel more secure if a routine is in place.
Getting to Know Each Other
Now you have your plants! You carefully place them in the soil that has been prepared. You gently pack the soil around them to hold them steady. You watch the plants grow stronger as their roots begin to take hold. Before long, your flowers will begin to bloom.
When the students first arrive in a classroom, they must also be supported until they find their place and settle in. Two things can help a student successfully make this transition. First, a positive initial experience is essential. Second, students need to feel a strong sense of community within their classroom.
How would it feel to walk into a classroom for the first time and immediately fail at something? You may feel frustrated or angry. You may even feel depressed. It definitely would not be a positive experience. Creating initial assignments that ensure a student's ability to be successful can prevent negative first impressions and start building student confidence.
Building a strong sense of community is also important as members of the classroom are getting to know each other. One of the first steps in this process is to work with your students to create class rules. Post these rules where they are visible and make sure everyone clearly understands what will occur if the rules are not followed. You should also make time to learn about each other. Provide opportunities for students to share about their lives and interests.
Your flower garden has been planted! The plants have established roots and are beginning to bloom. However, if you want your plants to thrive, you must continue to take care of your garden. Imagine what would happen if you suddenly stopped watering the flowers or pulling the weeds from the garden.
Just like our garden needs to be watered regularly, we must also continue to nurture the classroom. Establish a caring relationship with all of your students and provide them with continual encouragement. Provide ongoing positive feedback. Limit criticism when correcting a student. Engage students in the instruction by using their interests as motivation to learn.
We must also weed out negative behaviors that may occur in the classroom. Behavior issues can make other students feel unsafe and distracts from the learning environment. Do not allow negative interactions between students. Be proactive with this endeavor. It is much easier to correct a behavior after the first occurrence and less damage will occur to the learning environment.
When students feels they are in a safe and supportive learning environment, they will be better able to succeed. A positive environment where students are protected and nurtured is essential to learning. Some steps can be taken to provide a safe and supportive learning environment before the students arrive. Initial steps that ensure student success and ongoing maintenance are also necessary.
Before students arrive, the classroom must be organized and basic classroom procedures should be established. When students arrive, they should have a positive initial experience during which they can achieve success. You should also begin establishing a strong sense of community upon student arrival. Once this has been accomplished, you must continue to nurture the classroom and prevent any negative behaviors from disrupting the safe and supportive learning environment you have created.