Creating a Classroom Environment That Promotes Positive Behavior

By Lisa Wills

Positive, productive learning environments are essential to students’ academic success. Unfortunately, positive learning environments don’t just happen on their own, they must be created over time. You should begin developing a positive learning environment in your classroom during the first month of school. Efforts to maintain and grow that positive learning environment will take place over the course of the entire school year. The secret behind a positive learning environment: STRONG RELATIONSHIPS! A classroom environment that boasts strong culture has an exciting buzz in the classroom with students working together and advocating for one another. Strong student relationships will carry over and create a strong academic community. Small group instruction where students work together and share ideas is one of the greatest aspects of a positive classroom culture!

An essential aspect of building relationships with students is getting to know students and demonstrating a personal interest in them. To do this, you need to learn about what is important to them. This can be accomplished by interacting with students informally and observing them in various situations and settings. You can also accomplish a strong student relationship by sharing more of yourself. How well do you know your students and their families? How much do your students know about you? An enjoyable introduction to relationship-building can be fostered by holding meaningful, consistent, and well-structured morning meetings. Class meetings are designed to help students understand the perspectives of others. During the morning meeting, the teacher should model student greetings. Take this time to express the importance of a meaningful greeting with eye contact and a smile. While greeting, a fist bump, a high five or a hug are the top three ways to greet! 

The morning meeting may be one of the most significant opportunities to build relationships and trust. An effective morning meeting will have three components: greeting and sharing, review of expectations, and celebrating student success. What is your favorite hobby? Where is the most exciting place you have ever traveled to?  For example, if you love to travel, bring in pictures or souvenirs as evidence.  Sharing tangible artifacts as a point of discussion is a fun way to make real-world connections. These artifacts will allow time for students to ask questions and have a better understanding of what is being shared. 

You can also review classroom expectations, class announcements and celebrate student success. Students really love learning more about their peers and teachers. Another example would be using technology to connect to special family members and friends. Have a relative in another state or country? Use Zoom to set up a live class meetup, the students will love it!

These fun and engaging activities will allow students to spend quality time communicating with peers. These strong connections create a strong academic community. Last, celebrations should be in place to help promote positivity. Celebrate good behavior, improved behavior, excellent grades, improved grades, good manners. Celebrating exciting accomplishments outside of the classroom is rewarding and fun.

Check out these best practices that can be used to promote a positive classroom culture:

Positive Calls Home. All students deserve check-in calls throughout the quarter. Don’t underestimate the power of a positive call. To make it more meaningful, allow students to use the classroom phone to make their own positive call!

Positive note home. Not in the mood to call? Send positive notes instead! Students really love receiving praise reports!

Snap a pic! Can you imagine how exciting it would be to receive a picture of your child “caught being good”? Parents love this form of communication and it’s an excellent way to build rapport.

Lunch with the teacher. Reserve one or two days each week to have lunch with students. This time could be with one student or with a group. Sharing interests, talents, writing poetry, munch, and math, sharing pictures, or trying a new food are ways you can incorporate a meaningful lunch date!

Praise, Praise, and more Praise. When addressing students, use positive kind words in a firm tone. Students really respond to positivity!

Earn a student job. Students can earn a job to assist with duties and responsibilities within the homeroom class. Students really love helping out!

Lisa Willis is a Fourth Grade Math Teacher at Victory College Prep