Positive Classroom Climate

Building a Positive Classroom Climate

For an overview, watch a brief video on building a positive climate in class from the League for Innovation.

The main points are summarized below.

  1. Get to know your students
  2. Let your students get to know each other
  3. Respect and foster diverse ways of being/knowing/doing. Read More
  4. Create a safe place for learning to occur: help students to fit in; relevant questions are OK; expectations for students and instructor are clear; set the stage for success for traditional and non-traditional learners
  5. As much as possible (in your control), make the physical environment comfortable
  6. Vary your teaching strategies to support different learning styles
  7. Support English Language Learners
  8. Value individual experiences and contributions by students

Tips to Sustain a Positive Learning Environment

Linda R. Hilsen, Director of the Instructional Development Service at the University of Minneapolis, Duluth, provides useful suggestions for establishing a positive classroom climate in the text, A Guide to Faculty Development (2002) by Anker Publishing. The PSU library has the text to read more in-depth.

The tips are summarized here:

  •  Be concerned about the physical setting
  • Make examples you use relevant to students’ lives
  • Address students by name
  • Establish rules – get student input – be compassionate, not cynical, Sometimes rules need to be broken
  • Constantly read your audience’s responses – are they lost, bored, anxious? Give breaks in long classes
  • Provide non-verbal encouragement – maintain eye contact, move around the room, be animated and expressive
  • Model the thinking process in your field. Don’t just tell them – show them, let them practice
  • Use positive reinforcement
  • Keep tabs on how your students are doing
  • Pause when asking questions – 15 seconds
  • Don’t talk down to students
  • Facilitate discussions – don’t be the emcee
  • Use peer pressure to your advantage
  • Let your students provide feedback during the course
  • Recognize and engage students outside of class
  • Find out about student accomplishments and mention them.
  • Keep the office climate positive too!

Supporting Traditional Age and Non-Traditional Age Students

Excerpted and adapted from: Holland, G.P. (2006). The adult learner (Presentation). Towson University

  • Adult learners are supported in the classroom when they:
  • Are treated as partners in the learning process
  • Are asked for their input about their learning goals
  • Are invited to share their expertise and experiences
  • Feel that the course schedule takes into account their needs outside the classroom
  • Are put at ease in the learning environment
  • Are shown the relevance of instruction
  • Receive graded assignments back quickly with meaningful feedback
  • Are asked for feedback about the course throughout the learning process

Support Traditional-age learners by:

  • Providing clear instructions everything – expectations, assignments, grading.. All of it!
  • Providing a scaffold for learning – Connect the new to the known; chunk material into manageable pieces and sequence it logically; review before moving onto new material.
  • Giving meaningful feedback promptly and often
  • Giving examples and modeling what you expect
  • Providing information about outside resources (writing centers, counseling, disability services) and referring students who may need extra support.

Resources

To read more about this important topic, visit the links below.

US State Department GO

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