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How to create a supportive classroom environment


One thing about teaching that everyone learns sooner or later is that you can’t follow a cookie-cutter approach. You might get a few insights from your fellow teachers or remember useful strategies from your former educators, but you always need to be prepared for all sorts of situations. 

While most students thrive in groups, others find it challenging to collaborate and come out of their shells. All of those interactions result from how well you manage classroom behavior. 

Creating a supportive classroom environment

Evidence-based research shows that you can support positive reactions in your classroom and enhance student-teacher relationships by considering Positive Behavior for Learning (PB4L) strategies. 

Let’s look at what they are and how you can implement them in your classroom. 

Get to know your students

The best thing you can do is get to know your students and their families at the beginning of the school year. Take the time to find out their likes and dislikes. It’s a lot easier to keep them engaged and interested in your lessons by including topics they are interested in. 

More so, your students’ families play a big part in their academic success. A culturally diverse classroom environment helps students to appreciate community interests, engage with community resources, and include their families in the learning process. 

Keep in touch with your students’ parents and take advantage of every opportunity to let them introduce their passions. Your school learning management system (LMS) makes it easy to interact with parents and create lessons based on what you know about them.


Read more: How to keep parents engaged in school activities using an LMS


Provide effective feedback 

One of the primary tools teachers have at their disposal for creating a supportive classroom environment is feedback. Teacher feedback plays a crucial role in improving student motivation and engagement, leading to academic achievement.

There are different types of feedback that you can provide to close the gap between your students’ current knowledge and a desirable level of understanding. For example, appreciation has a positive impact as it validates time spent on a task. Other teachers prefer “sayback,” repeating a sentence that your students previously said and letting them know they are on the right track. For instance: “I agree that [student’s name] that this video demonstrates why bees are going extinct. Good find!” 

Whether you provide these types of feedback, consider sharing personal experiences, or provide encouragement, think about how students engage with it. Based on the proactive recipience theory, it’s important to make sure that feedback is specific, detailed, individualized, and it gives students an opportunity to improve their assignments.


Read more: How to give feedback to students in the online learning environment


Include student-centered practices

Students are the soul of the classroom. However, they are not always in control of their learning. With student-centered learning (SCL), they co-create education and decide what, how, and when to learn. Regardless of their age, these practices make them curious, creative, self-directed and teach them to be good members of society. 

As an educator, you become a facilitator and observe students while motivating them to become more independent. A good starting point is group discussions and other group activities. In a physical classroom, you could divide them into multiple groups and give a prompt to discuss. You could do the same thing through groups or forums when teaching remotely. 

Stimulate their brains by including creative exercises such as drawing or writing a short story, and most importantly, have fun with it.


Read more: Fostering the development of SEL skills in your classroom


Be available outside of class

As previously mentioned, some students don’t feel comfortable sharing their emotions with the whole class. In that situation, you need to find a way to interact with them outside of school hours. For example, when you’re at school, you could designate a room where you can meet and chat, something less daunting than the teacher’s office. 

You could let your students know that they can message you or even reach out to them individually in an online setting. Ask students for feedback but don’t shy away from personal chat either. Once you have already established a relationship, it’s easier to interact in such environments and understand what they are going through. 

Lastly, you could organize small gatherings regularly or engage in volunteer work to strengthen your bond. 

Use positive nonverbal communication

Nonverbal interactions play an essential role in the teaching process. The way you convey a message to your students is just as essential as the message itself. Becoming aware of this nonverbal communication allows you to become better at communicating with your students.

Some areas to explore nonverbal communication in your classroom are: 

  • Eye contact – when you make eye contact, you open the flow of communication while conveying interest and credibility;
  • Facial expressions – a simple way to communicate friendliness and warmth to your students is smiling;
  • Gestures – capture your students’ attention and keep them engaged through an animated teaching style or head nods;
  • Body language – make sure you always face your students when talking and that your posture is erect but not rigid;
  • Humor – it releases stress and tension and facilitates a comfortable classroom environment that supports learning.

Read more: The surprising power of humor over the learning process


Summary

Creating a supportive classroom environment also helps you support positive interactions which, in turn, leads to positive behavior management. Since it’s all about building strong relationships, you need to find a way to make your students feel comfortable when learning. Make sure you take the time to get to know them personally and be supportive at all times with effective communication. 

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