Happy New Year! I honestly almost love January more than September-it is like a fresh start on the school year-except we have a little traction under our feet. We know the kids-they know us-and we have 1/2 the year left together. To start off the New Year I compiled ’16’ strategies that have helped many classrooms achieve even greater success in the 2nd semester of the year then the first. Through my lens as a leader I have seen each of these done in many classrooms PreK-8th grade and they work! I bet you have tried a few of these-and probably using some right now.
To start 2016 I encourage you to set a personal goal to:
- Try one of the 16 ways and see how it goes-for bonus points try something you wouldn’t normal do.
- Review/revise one of the 16 ways that you might already be doing. Could you do it differently? With a specific student/course?
- Encourage another teacher to try by opening up your classroom as an example of that practice-we learn so much more together than in isolation.
20 ’16’ Ways to Create a Positive Classroom:
- Teach what you preach. Be specific about what you want to see in your classroom and teach that to students. Review classroom expectations often and in the natural setting. If it matters to you-you need to make sure your students not only understand the ‘what’ of your expectations but the ‘why’.
- Get to know your students. What did they do over break? What do they want to be when they grow up? Have they ever had a pet? You would be surprised how easily it will be to build on these insights to increase your positive classroom culture and maybe even spark some new learning opportunities.
- Support goal setting. Help students set goals and then work with them to achieve these goals. They might be learning multiplication, making it across the monkey bars all by themselves, or reading a book. Whatever the goal is-be their biggest cheerleader!
- Thank someone-daily. Send a positive note to a staff member, call a family with good news, heck tell your Principal you are grateful for the new lunch schedule. Spreading joy and modeling that for your students only grows a positive school culture!
- 5:1 Ratio. 5 Positives to 1 piece of feedback. We all know this one-but putting into practice (especially with those ‘button pushers’ can be a challenge). Keep a post-it note available and keep track for 10 days of working towards 5:1. Set a goal of increasing your 5:1 with at least 1/2 your class and then try to increase that %. Spreading positive praise in your classroom increases chance of it coming back to you-with interest :).
- Practice Mindfulness. PAUSE, take a deep breathe, PAUSE, reflect on your surroundings. PAUSE, put some white space in your day. Adding some quiet in your day helps to give you opportunities to slow down and regroup. It also models for your students and other teachers that you don’t always have to be ‘busy’ to be learning and growing.
- Encourage your students to have a growth mindset. Take time to write down and reflect on words and ways you can encourage students to have a growth mindset while learning and use them-a lot.
- Make a class mantra. “engaged and excited to learn” “together we are better” “we are working hard together”. Whatever it is build it together and post it all over the room.
- Share your ‘hidden’ talents with your class. Do you have a favorite sport? Do you play an instrument? Do you enjoy traveling? Share it with your students. It can build community, build a bridge and build a strong relationship with students that might have similar interests.
- Encourage parent participation. Ask for help on an upcoming project, event or even just to be an extra hand in the room. You might be surprised at who responds when you reach out to specific families for a purpose.
- Recognize Positive Behavior-Reinforce it- Rinse-Repeat.
- Be a hall greeter. Take time in the morning to greet students, staff and families as they come into the building. Developing a positive personality in and out of your classroom only increases the benefits to others and shows your students that not only do they matter-but so do others who enter their school.
- Seek student voice in decision making opportunities. Getting your class perspective can help to deepen their understanding of a concept. It can also support buy in for classroom management if they have a say in the process.
- Reflect on your daily behavior practices. We often reflect on a lesson-what went well-what didn’t-and what you would do differently next time. However do you do the same for an interaction with a student? Try reflecting on an interaction with a student with the same intention as you would an instructional reflection.
- Give 100% effort-but don’t expect perfection from your students in return. We all fall down and fail forward. How you respond to these missteps will show your class that you are willing to try again if they are as well.
- Celebrate the small success-always.
So what do you think? Could you try one of these? Or tweak one to make it fit your class. Please remember that YOU can make a big positive impact for your class climate and your students. All the best in 2016!