Establishing a positive classroom climate

Unit 1 Act.3

Establishing an atmosphere of tolerance is essential for building a ‘caring’ climate.   Students have lots of opportunities at school to practice this but if it is not taught in a thoughtful way, the meaning can get lost.

Tolerance, empathy, respect and consideration can be ambiguous to both students and teachers who think of school mainly in terms of academic subjects.

However, whether you are a 1st grade teacher or a high school physics teacher, these social/emotional experiences are vital for life-long success and I strongly contend, ‘happiness’.

The idea that the classroom is a ‘melting pot’ where everyone is homogenized into a single ‘perfect’ student is not a realistic and utterly culturally offensive. Cultural and ethnic diversity should be welcomed, celebrated and integrated into all lessons (academics, arts, culture) and the overall school community through practices, routines and traditions that honor and promote this ideology.

As a teacher, it’s important to build a strong relationship with your students. Trust and caring is NOT something that can be created by simply writing them down on a piece of cardboard and placing it on the wall.

Start this process in the same way that people normally form relationships, by sharing personal experiences and cultural backgrounds. This is difficult for some people/teachers but ‘sharing’ will help build ‘understanding’ and even ‘empathy’.

This practice of ‘sharing’ can be done as a whole class, in small groups or with a partner. ‘Open-ended’ questions will help stimulate dialogue and engage all levels of learners.

Structuring lessons that integrate a variety cultural perspectives are easy to do Educators have ready access to resources from around the world. Sharing lessons and communicating with teachers and students globally can be done on a multitude of websites, through SKYPE, Blogs and video-sharing sites.

Classes can establish a relationship with other schools through emails or blogs with students in Asia, the Middle East, Oceania or anywhere!

Sharing can read articles, have discussions, form questions and interview each other. They can create videos, participate in forums and internationally minded clubs like Model UN and Amnesty International.

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