There are many reasons why you should want to make your classroom a better place. After all, it’s where you spend most of your waking hours during the school year. And there’s also the fact that the more inviting your classroom is, the more your students will want to be there.
Improving your classroom experience isn’t all about fancy lighting and well-thought-out bulletin boards, though. There’s more to a class’s environment than decorations! To truly make it a warm and inviting place, consider every aspect of the classroom experience for both you and your students.
Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Knowing how to successfully work with other individuals helps students get more out of their education, and it’s also a useful skill to carry through their school years and beyond. Giving your students ample opportunities to work as part of a group sets them up for success by promoting problem solving and social skills.
Here are some tips for promoting collaboration within your classroom:
- Help students understand the various roles within a group.
- Assign complex assignments that cannot be done individually, helping them to see the value in working with their peers.
- Build discussion opportunities into your daily lesson plans.
When encouraging your students to work with their classmates, be watchful to make sure the quiet students aren’t fading into the background. Similarly, make sure every student has a role and that no one is coasting and letting their group members do all of the work. The more hands-on you are during group work, and the more your students understand the roles of each member of a group, the more successful this time will be.
A flexible classroom is one where students have a say in how they learn best, both in a physical sense and also in terms of learning styles. The most obvious way to create a flexible learning environment is by bringing in alternate seating choices. If possible, ditch the desks and bring in couches or bean bags. If you can’t bring in new furniture, give students the option of working on the floor with a clipboard or lap desk.
A flexible classroom goes beyond where students learn, though—the classroom experience also covers how they learn. Evaluate the activities and assignments you create for your students. Are you catering to a variety of learning styles, or just one or two? One tried-and-true tip for giving students more of a say in their work is to assign choice boards. Create a grid where each space lists a different review activity. Tell the students how many boxes they need to check off and let them decide which ones to complete. By including assignment options that hit on all different learning styles, you’re more likely to appeal to every student in your class.
In addition to letting students complete different types of review activities, consider how you present your information. Switching up your presentation style from day to day is a great way to keep students interested and also appeal to different learners. Show a video one day, complete an active reading activity the next, and conduct a traditional lecture after that. You might even consider following a flipped classroom model.
By giving students a variety of learning styles to choose from, you’re letting them have a voice in their education, thus improving the whole feel of your classroom. Not only will they be more likely to retain the content because it appeals to their unique learning styles, but they will also feel more respected and empowered.
It’s important for teachers to stay up-to-date with technology, but you shouldn’t just use it for the sake of checking off a box. Any electronic device or online resource used in your classroom should enhance the lesson and deepen your students’ understanding of the material.
Scanning a paper worksheet into Google Classroom and having students type their answers instead of writing them by hand is not the best example of online learning. Sure, it’s convenient, especially for students working remotely. But to truly harness the power of digital learning, find ways for the internet to take your assignments to a deeper level. Interactive worksheets and digital escape rooms are two great ways to keep students engaged and effectively utilize technology in the classroom.
Learning best practices for technology in the classroom doesn’t just help your students grasp and retain your course material. It also prepares them for entering the workforce later on, where a solid understanding of technology is expected in nearly every field.
One thing to keep in mind when integrating technology into the classroom is safety, for both your students and their devices. The more time they spend online, the greater the need for students to have training in digital citizenship. You should also keep in mind that every device you bring into your classroom is another opportunity for sensitive data to be stolen. Work closely with your district’s technology department to protect your classroom’s information in as many ways as possible.
The classroom management strategy that works for your co-worker might not be the best plan for your classroom. There are many variables that affect the efficacy of a classroom management strategy from the teacher’s personality to the course material to how your particular group of students gets along. Whether you’re a new teacher or a seasoned veteran, you may find yourself testing out multiple strategies before finding the one that works for you and your students. And that “one that works” will most likely change from year to year, too.
Regardless of which classroom management strategy you end up following, make sure it’s grounded in respect and communication. When everyone feels seen, heard, and respected, the entire atmosphere in the classroom shifts. The best lesson plans and most advanced technology aren’t worth much if you don’t have a genuine connection with your students. A solid classroom management strategy is a surefire way to make your classroom a welcoming and inviting place.
Creating a Positive Classroom Experience
One of your greatest responsibilities as an educator is to promote a positive classroom experience. If your classroom is chaotic, tense, or uninspiring, you’re going to have a difficult time forming relationships and getting through the course material. By following these guidelines and making your classroom a more inclusive and enjoyable place, you’re sure to enjoy a successful year.