“As a teacher, you create the weather in your classroom.”(1)
What this phrase essentially means is that teachers create the mood, the feel, the environment.
If the teacher is stressed or in a bad mood, this mood spreads to the students. Contrast this with a positive, enthusiastic, energetic teacher, who expects much from his or her students but does so with warmth, caring, and a supportive nature?
A positive classroom atmosphere is essential for students to learn and develop. (2)
When students can see the humor in their mistakes, celebrate their successes, and feel empowered as change agents, they will actively engage in learning and consequently learn more effectively. Far from promising easy solutions and instant results, these strategies will increase students' capacity to tolerate the discomfort that comes with working hard and to accept that there are no easy answers—that only critical thinking and perseverance lead the way to mastery.
Research shows that a positive atmosphere increases student academic achievements and leads to increased self-esteem. Creating a positive classroom atmosphere takes effort on the part of the teacher and students. By setting a positive example for your students and using positive reinforcement to promote positive behavior, you can turn your classroom into a positive learning environment.
By providing enough positive experiences to counteract the negative, it can help students avoid getting stuck in a "negative spiral". (2)
Few ideas how to create positive atmosphere:
Always be positive.
The most important tool in creating a positive classroom atmosphere is for the teacher to be a positive role model. Being positive doesn’t mean being happy all of the time. Rather, being positive means approaching every issue with a positive, constructive attitude.
Model good social skills.
- There are little ways to be positive, such as smiling in the morning when your students arrive.
- You should also be positive when difficult issues arise. For example, if a scary news story comes up in class, talk about things the students can do to help. Or discuss how it’s okay to be sad and no one should be looked down upon for expressing their emotions in a healthy way.
Your students will mimic the behavior that you display. If you react with anger when a student misbehaves, your students will think this is the right way to respond to frustration and they will do the same. On the other hand, if you display self-control in the face of frustration, your students will do the same.
Acknowledge positive behaviors.
If you point out good examples of positive behavior, your students will learn to recognize these behaviors and seek to emulate them. Without acknowledgement, your students won’t know which behaviors to aspire to.
- When a student engages in a positive behavior such as helping another student or peacefully resolving a conflict, acknowledge the behavior by either bringing it to the individual student’s attention or to the attention of the entire class.
- For example, if a student steps in to support a student who is being bullied, you might acknowledge the student later and say, “This is the kind of positive behavior that helps make everyone feel happier and more comfortable.”(3)