Together, positive teacher- student relationships and effective classroom management make for a learning environment that is physically, emotionally, and intellectually safe.
An academically successful learning environment stands on a foundation consisting of clear routines and expectations, positive reinforcement, structure, and predictability. Students crave routines because it creates order and consistency. This allows students to focus on the task at hand, creates more learning time, and eliminates confusion.
Physically and emotionally safe classroom environments are a result of students being aware of classroom expectations. Without students being introduced to classroom expectations and being invited to take part in making them, there will be little ownership or accountability for their actions and I will spend too much time correcting and disciplining instead of teaching.
As a class, we created a charter that we recite every morning. We created this charter by brainstorming ideas about how we want to feel at school and then followed with ideas about how we can achieve those feelings. When students act in ways that do not align with our class charter, I ask the students if their behavior is making others feel the way that we agreed we all wanted to feel at school.
Positive reinforcement and questioning is used to correct the behavior or effort of a student. I will prompt my student to think about options they could have taken. I will also use positive consequences because it is usually the most effective. Positive consequences may include some sort of positive verbal recognition to the students who are doing the right thing. When I do this, the students who aren’t doing the right thing at that time usually begin to do the right thing. I have found that kids usually like to please the teacher so most end up looking around at the “good” students and chance their behavior to get noticed. A positive approach works best for me because I want students, especially at this young age, to like school, to look forward to coming to school, and feel loved and valued by their teachers. Students get overwhelmed when they are constantly being told they are doing the wrong thing. I prefer to call out the students who are doing the right thing.
Intellectually, I will encourage my students to take risks, learn how to fail, and love challenges. I will reward risk taking and show them the positive outcomes of failure when it is viewed as a temporary condition and not a permanent state. I will share examples of how challenges create growth and learning.
In order for my students to feel valued and safe, I will know them by name, strength, and need. I will get to know my students and their families on a personal level, will value each and every student according to who they are and not how they perform, encourage them to explore their interests more deeply, and partner with them to find ways to specifically support their needs.
Fay, J., & Funk, D. (n.d.). Teaching with love & logic: Taking control of the classroom.