How To Create A Positive Classroom Culture - Down River Resources | Your Elementary Math Guide

How To Create A Positive Classroom Culture

The first days and weeks of school are important for establishing a positive classroom culture or classroom community. When students' view their classroom as a positive and supportive environment, they are more likely to learn. Now that's a powerful statement! Teachers who take the time to know their students, their families, and backgrounds, reap the rewards throughout the school year. Real estate agents often focus on three things: location, location, location. Teachers need to focus on three things too: relationships, relationships, relationships! One way to create a positive classroom culture is by applying the principles of culturally responsive teaching.

How to Create a Positive Classroom Culture

Creating a Positive Classroom Community 

Culturally Responsive Teaching is a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students' cultural references in all aspects of learning (Ladson-Billings,1994).

There are seven aspects that helps teachers implement culturally responsive teaching in their classrooms:
  1. Positive perspectives on parents and families
  2. Communication of high expectations
  3. Learning within the context of culture
  4. Student-centered instruction
  5. Culturally mediated instruction
  6. Reshaping the curriculum
  7. Teacher as facilitator
The biggest takeaway from studying this important pedagogy is that it's all about the student! 

How to Create a Positive Classroom Culture by Down River Resources
Teachers need to build relationship with the families connected to the STUDENT. 
Teachers need to communicate high expectations to the STUDENT. 
Teachers need to promote learning within the context of the culture of the STUDENT. 
Teachers need to value the STUDENT'S cultural history, values, and contribution.
Teachers need to reshape the curriculum to meet the needs of the STUDENT. 
Teachers need to be the facilitators of the STUDENT.

Ways to Create a Positive Relationship with Families 

I know you are thinking, how does positive perspectives and relationships with families impact the classroom community? Often times, students embody the same feelings and views that their families have on topics. If I think about the last political season, I could see the passion parents had as students talked about the candidates! They developed these views and opinions in the home.

Seek to understand the family's view.

It is important to seek to understand families' hopes for their child. Each parent, or guardian, wants their child to be the best and thinks their child IS the best. It is important that teachers embrace this vision for their students also. You can gain this understanding any time you encounter a family member, especially during conference times. Teachers must take a parents' vision for their child, as well as their concerns, seriously. If not, it threatens the relationship with the family. 

Write weekly notes to send home with the students.

One of the best things I ever did for my classroom was write a weekly note. I started the tradition my first year teaching. I include a little blurb about what happened last week and what we are looking forward to in the coming week. I also note what topics we are covering in each subject, The simple statement of each topics allows families to know what kinds of things that they can help with at home, if they choose to do so. Our weekly spelling list is also recorded there for quick reference.

By sending home a weekly note about the happenings in the classroom, families stay connected to the school. It is an additional time commitment for you, but it will valued by those who read it! My parents are constantly stopped by people in the community who remember my weekly notes home. 

Develop a rapport with families during pick-up.

Simply say a little more than the typical greetings during after school pick up. Share a memory of something fun, exciting, or interesting that their child did or said during the day. Not only does it create a window of opportunity for the parent to talk to you, but it helps establish a positive relationship with the parent. When an issue arises, it is much easier to address the concern with the parent. 

Ways to Create a Positive Relationships with Students

When you view parents, or families, as partners in the education of their child, their children are more likely to be receptive to you too. The first few weeks of school is the most important time for creating positive relationships with your students and among them too! I remember the old saying among veteran teachers, "Don't crack a smile before Christmas!" I think this is out-dated! It is important for a child to view you as an authority figure with high expectations, but them thinking you sleep at school is passé. 

Get to know your students.

 First Day of School CraftivityThe first few days of school are perfect for quick activities and ice breakers you know them personally. The more information you have about a child, the better you can connect with them. This embodies two principles of culturally responsive teaching: learning within the context of culture and student-centered instruction. 

I like to provide my students time to work on small crafts and other activities that allow students the opportunity to draw and color. This gives me an opportunity to quickly assess their fine motor skills, while providing time for them to talk to their table team. This is a simple way to start building that sense of community.

 Splat! Classroom Community Mega BundleI also play small community building games where students share about what they like or don't like. I learn a lot about students' preferences. I use this knowledge as a connector throughout the year to other connect. When a new movie comes out that my students have watched, I watch it too. I am able to make learning more relevant for the students!

Talk about things important to you.

When you share parts of your own personal life with students, they get more comfortable with the idea of sharing their own. This creates a connection with the students. I frequently mention Mr. Williams, my husband, or my sweet puppy dog, Jedi, when I am teaching. Students make that personal connection to me and engages them. When I was teaching in kindergarten, I had to teach about wants and needs of an organism. I designed an entire unit around my dog, Jedi. The students loved it and were able to make connections to other organisms' wants and needs much easier because they were so interested! It motivated them to talk and write about their experiences and connections!

I hope this inspires you to take steps this school year to create a positive classroom culture, if your interested in some of my classroom community building resources, you can check them out in my TpT shop.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The dreamkeepers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishing Co.

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