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Building Positive Classrooms: A Practical Approach

Days ago, I delved into the reading of an article on ACADEMIA-Letters, “Positive Classroom Environments and Rule Setting” by Michael Depear from the University of the People. I found the content highly intriguing and wanted to write an article to share and introduce new perspectives and approaches we could embrace with our students at school, enhancing the effectiveness of our work.

To begin, Depear emphasizes the significance of social norms, likening them to the unspoken rules that govern society. They are the efficient guidelines that keep everything running smoothly. Imagine a world without them – chaos, right? Well, the same goes for classrooms.
Just as these norms maintain order in broader society, they serve as the foundation for a conducive learning environment in the classroom.

Regarding classroom rules, Depear recommends a collaborative approach with everyone pulling in the same direction. Get your students involved in creating the do’s and don’ts of your class. It’s like a classroom constitution, but much more fun. When students have a say, they feel like they’re part of something bigger – your fantastic learning community.

The power of positive language is emphasized as a valuable tool for educators. Instead of saying, “You must try harder,” include supportive phrases such as “You’ve got this”-“You can do it”; This helps to create a motivating and encouraging atmosphere. And if a student is struggling, remind them of their previous successes, this will help them rekindle their confidence.

Constructive feedback is identified as a crucial element. Encouraging open communication, be it through simple indicators like thumbs up or down, facilitates a dynamic feedback loop between educators and students.
Saying “Great job!” is cool, but specifics about their progress are even better.
Help them understand the path from a C to an A.

Understanding students on a personal level is considered essential!
Learn about their hobbies, interests, and what makes them tick. It’s not just about being a teacher; it’s about being a human being in their eyes, not some robot with a textbook.
Now, onto the no-nos. Forget about the “no talking in class” rule. How can you learn in a silent environment? Communication is key; maintain controlled communication levels.
Depear also challenges the efficacy of traditional rewards like gold stars and A grades, proposing a focus on acknowledging the effort and journey rather than merely the result. It’s not about the shiny sticker; it’s about the pride in what they’ve achieved.

Lastly, judging students is a big NO-NO. Instead of labeling, find out what’s really going on. Ask them why they’re struggling or acting out. It’s about understanding, not pointing fingers.

The article concludes with a reminder to approach the classroom as a dynamic social community, advocating for flexibility and attentiveness to foster an inclusive and supportive atmosphere. Michael’s insights offer a blueprint for creating positive spaces where every voice is heard and supported, and no one is left behind. As future educators, let’s embrace these principles and cultivate environments that encourage growth and positivity.


Author: Roberta Muratore – JUMP Team