Establishing a Positive Classroom Climate

  1. The importance of creating a climate of caring and concern:

Creating a positive climate increases students engagement in the classroom and encourages students collaboration and participation. Establishing a positive classroom environment where students are respectful of themselves and others will help reduce the risk of conflict. Students only learn when they feel safe, valued, and comfortable in the classroom.

Students hope they will get along with their peers and teachers and enjoy the process of learning. These hopes define positive classrooms for students. Often, teachers are so focused on ensuring that students pass achievement tests that they have little or no time to address students’ social and emotional needs. we can combine the need for positive classrooms that support the whole child with the need for accountability and improved academic performance. Since a negative environment can be an obstacle to learning, it is essential to understand how to create and sustain a positive climate for all students.

  1. How can you develop this climate for diversity
  • Honoring students’ experience: teachers must provide safe spaces where students are seen, valued, cared for and respected. It is also important that students have opportunities to learn from one another’s varied experiences and perspectives.
  • Thoughtful classroom setup and structure: without saying a word, classrooms send messages about diversity, relationship building, communication and the roles of teachers and students. So teachers have to set up a classroom with careful thoughts and respect.
  • Encourage shared inquiry and dialogue: Teachers must provide students with ample opportunities to do shared-inquiry and dialogue. Dialogue is more than conversation. It is also different than debate, in which someone wins and someone loses. Dialogue requires openness to new ideas and collective learning.
  • Create social and emotional safety: Create a classroom contract with students. Students should participate in shaping the contract, identifying a list of agreements about how class members will treat one another, talk together and so on.
  • Establish value-based behavior management: Adopt a “zero-indifference” policy instead of zero tolerance policy Zero indifference means never letting disrespectful conduct go unaddressed; school staff always name and respond to behaviors, but they do not implement automatic suspension, expulsion or other punishments.
  1. How to develop a classroom caring environment for students different from my own cultural background 

Because I am a Chinese and now I am teaching in a Taiwanese school in Shanghai, 95% of my students are from China or Taiwan, so I feel like currently this is not an issue for me. However, in the future I might move to another country and teach students from other cultural backgrounds. So some of the items I mentioned above will still be effective for this part, honoring students’ beliefs, religions, and cultures, be inclusive and considerate for every cultural background in the classroom. Actually for my current students, half of them are from Taiwan and the other half are from mainland China, although the two groups share similar cultures, there can still be issues when it comes to political problems, so I will have to be very careful on certain sensitive topics such as “which country do you come from?”

 In conclusion, for students different from our own culture background, we need to pay extra attention to them, be subtle, sensitive and inclusive. The following are more tips for students from different cultural backgrounds :

  • Learn about my own culture

Become aware of how the influence of your own culture, language, social interests, goals,  and values could prevent you from learning how you could best teach your students of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Also, understanding and respecting your own cultural roots can help you respect your students’ cultural roots.

  •  Learn about my students’ culture

Understand how your students’ cultures affect their perceptions, self-esteem, values, classroom behavior, and learning. Use that understanding to help your students feel welcomed, affirmed, respected, and valued.

  •  Understand my students’ linguistic traits

Learn how students’ patterns of communication and various dialects affect their classroom learning and how second-language learning affects their acquisition of literacy.

  •  Use this knowledge to inform my teaching

Let your knowledge of your students’ diverse cultures inform your teaching. This, along with a sincerely caring attitude, increases student participation and engagement.

  • Use multicultural books and materials to foster cross-cultural understanding

Sensitively use multicultural literature, especially children’s literature, to honor students’ culture and foster cross-cultural understanding. Be open to a variety of instructional strategies as students’ cultures may make certain strategies (such as competitive games or getting students to volunteer information) uncomfortable for them.

  •  Know about my students’ home and school relationships

Collaborate with parents on children’s literacy development and don’t rely on preconceived notions of the importance of literacy within your students’ families.

  1. Developing positive relationships with students and confronting bullying
  • Increase cultural competence: Cultural competency is the ability to work effectively—and sensitively—across cultural contexts. It involves learning, communicating and connecting respectfully with others regardless of differences. Culture can refer to an individual’s race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status, and age, among other things. All these factors strongly influence people’s lives and experiences. Teachers—regardless of background or identity—must bring both cultural understanding and self-awareness to their work.
  • Speaking up and responding to prejudice, bias and stereotypes: This means intervening every time students tease, bully or use slurs or stereotypes. It means speaking up against biased jokes and criticisms. And it means pointing out injustice during discussions of history and literature, in school interactions, or in the news.
  1. Specific strategies confronting bullying

    • Know my school and district policies on bullying do your part to implement them effectively. My school has (Department of Student Affairs)DSA which is making the policies for students.
    • Treat students and others with warmth and respect let students know that you are available to listen and help them.
    • Conduct classroom activities around bullying help your class identify bullying in books, TV shows and movies, and discuss the impact of that bullying and how it was/could be resolved. Hold class meetings in which students can talk about bullying and peer relations.
    • Discuss bullying with colleagues, you will be better able to monitor the school environment. Discuss both bullying in general and concerns regarding specific students.
    • Take immediate action failure to act provides tacit approval of the behavior and can cause it to spread.

References:

  1. (2006). Building a positive classroom culture and climate. Retrieved February 21, 2017, from http://teaching.colostate.edu/tips/tip.cfm?tipid=136
  2. Retrieved February 21, 2017, from http://www.tolerance.org/sites/default/files/general/PDA%20Critical%20Practices_0.pdf
  3. Teaching children with diverse cultural backgrounds. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from  https://www.imaginelearning.com/blog/2010/06/esl_struggling-readers-2/
  4. OBrien, A. (2011, October 5). Bullying prevention: 5 tips for teachers, principals, and parents. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from Bullying Prevention, https://www.edutopia.org/blog/bullying-prevention-tips-teachers-parents-anne-obrien
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