If you want to establish a positive classroom climate, there are several actions that you should take immediately in order to ensure a simultaneous sense of order and community among your students. When I begin the school year, I try to make the students feel welcome to their new classroom, but also emphasize respect for their teacher and classmates and the differences among us.
In an effort to make my students feel welcome and comfortable, I use these practices:
Personalizing the Classroom: I have decorations in my classroom that the students have chosen and help to design. I have different walls tailored to different aspects of the students learning. There’s a word wall, super star wall, word board, and student work area.
Individualized Teaching: While it can sometimes be difficult to do with quite a number of students, I try to have an individualized approach to teaching. Some students prefer to do mechanical center activities. Some like to work in pairs while others like to work individually.
Emotional Neutrality: If a teacher fails to practice emotional neutrality, there will be students who feel unwelcome and unhappy about being in that class. It is the responsibility of the teacher to not play favorites and never demonstrate distaste for students.
An Environment of Inclusion: The teacher should make sure students of all different shapes, sizes, and color feel included in the classroom and not discriminated against. This can be done through anti-bias education. Allow me to further elaborate my own personal experience and situation in my classroom.
I am the only non-Chinese person in my classroom as all of my co-teachers and students are homogeneous in nationality and race, so bias within my classroom is fairly limited in terms of cultural differences; however, as I’ve noticed throughout my experience with Chinese nationals, their lack of exposure to diversity often leads to unintentional racism. Therefore, I think it is important to address diversity and how to practice cultural sensitivity at a young age.
While contemplating the issue of anti-bias teaching, I have referred to Teaching Tolerance’s article titled “Critical Practices for Anti-bias Education.” Some main points of how to address anti-bias education in the classroom include:
Since most students in my classroom grow up with limited exposure to people with other cultural background, it’s important to incorporate lessons about different cultures and address differences in gender, race, religion, and nationality into our lessons.
Listening: The students should feel that their comments, contributions, and opinions are valued by their teachers and peers. The teachers and students should demonstrate active listening skills, such as nodding.
Bullying Prevention: . First, you could have workshops and lessons about bullying, the damage it can do to peers, and awareness of differences between students. Second, you could emphasize the protocol for reporting bullying to the teacher. Third, you could have the students do role play where the students act as both the bully and the bullied.
All of these techniques can go a long way in making students feel more comfortable in the class. As I’ve discovered, the class will run much smoother if you emphasize classroom norms and procedures from the very beginning of the year. The classroom should be a place of inclusion, fun, and learning and it is the role of the teacher to implement these characteristics.
Critical Practices for Anti-Bias Education. (2014) Teaching Tolerance. Retrieved from July 2, 2016 from