March 6, 2015

Creating a Positive Classroom Environment

855-2-1855-1-1What DO great teachers do? Dawn Kozlickia teacher at Lake Zurich High School in Palatine, Illinois, shares her ideas for keeping a positive environment in her classroom, and describes how she sets expectations with students. From a respected teaching colleague, Dawn learned “it is best to establish a positive environment rather than (to) focus on what students should not be doing in the classroom.” Read more about Dawn’s teaching tips for creating a positive classroom environment.

First day of school: expectations vs. rules

When clear expectations are set at the beginning of the year, it creates a better environment forstudents. After a teacher communicates these expectations with her class, she is then able to develop strong relationships with students. Expectations are more important than rules because “rules…often focuson undesirable behaviors with predictable results” (Whitaker 14). Instead, stating the positiveexpectationsin a classroom will focus on the positive behaviors the teacher expects. When these areclear, students often meet the expectations. It is more effective to say, “Be respectful” rather than “If you are not respectful, you will go to the Dean’s office.” Therefore, positive expectations need to be set at the start of the year.

I have been teaching for eight years, and in my second year, I started teaching a co-curricular classwitha very experienced history teacher. I was able to learn so much from her, especially with classroom management. I learned that it is best to establish a positive environment rather than focus on what students should not be doing in the classroom. So from that moment, my expectations have been very clear and positive. At the start of the year, my students and I establish classroom expectations. The expectations are usually: stay positive, respect yourselves, the classroom, your peers, and your teacher. My students know what I expect, and they generally meet these expectations on a daily basis.

To learn more about classroom management ideas, enroll in Learners Edge course 855: What Great Teachers Do.



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