An essential role of an educator, no matter the age of the student, is creating a positive classroom climate in which students feel cared for and respected. My goal as a teacher is to create a positive classroom in which students respect each other and myself while working as a team for the common good.
From as early as kindergarten children begin to develop a feeling towards school, some love school and can’t wait to go every day, while others dread it and can’t wait for the school day to end. As an educator, I must look inward to understand how much of that could be preventable, how much of that is because of me?
Looking inward isn’t the easiest thing. As a second year kindergarten teacher I have tried different methods to create and foster a positive classroom, some that worked and others that didn’t (I’ll go into that in more detail later). With each new school year and each new group of students it is hard to know what the dynamic will be between students until several weeks into the school year. As a teacher, one of the few things we CAN prepare for is our self. By this, I mean having universal systems in place for not only how the classroom with be run but how positive interactions will be fostered. While it might seem easy, I can attest from experience, it does take a little thought and practice.
Establishing a positive classroom climate for me, begins the moment I see my students for the first time each day. I try to make a point of saying good morning to each student, asking how they’re morning is, and giving them a high five while they are in their morning line on the playground. By taking just a few moments to greet my students my hope is that this sets the tone for the morning for my students, I appreciate that they are here and I genuinely care how they are doing.
Manners and kindness are big ongoing lessons in my kindergarten classroom. From passing out papers to giving feedback, students are shown a way to properly communicate in which all people walk away feeling better. Saying please and thank you with either words or sign language are easy ways to show your appreciation. Students in my classroom are encouraged to help a friend if they need it, to clean up an area even if it wasn’t their own mess, and to respect the working environment of others, all as a way of showing kindness. While manners could be a whole separate class for students nowadays, it is implemented in everything we do. With kindergarteners these are life long skills that take quite a bit of time and effort.
Valuing Different Cultures and Backgrounds
In my current classroom I have a slightly diverse make-up of students from different races and ethnicities. Through different themed lessons and readings I hope to touch on each of these backgrounds a bit more during the school year. Other ideas I have thought about or read in texts are including local community members and family members of students into the classroom to talk about their culture further. Decorating the classroom with images of like aged peers of different races and abilities is another idea to bring value to the different cultures and backgrounds within the classroom. At the kindergarten level, another way to express value for different cultures and backgrounds would be to take a field trip to a relevant location, in Arizona an example might be the Heard Museum, an American Indian Museum.
Relevance to previous activities
Creating a classroom climate of caring and concern for others will mean that bullying in any form will not be tolerated. While for kindergarteners bullying may seem like they are too young for the issue, students are never to young to learn on to treat others kindly and showing respect. A classroom climate of support and caring means students are trying to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. No child should ever fear coming to school or feel unsafe. As an educator it is important to always check in with your students. Not just in terms of their IQ but their EQ (emotional intelligence). How are they feeling, what scares them, what are they excited for, how are others treating you and how are you treating others are questions I use to gauge how my students are feeling as well as what things I might be missing during the day. These are helpful things to keep in mind when thinking about a positive classroom climate.