The spotlight shines even more brightly on classroom climate these days. The Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) allows us to focus on social emotional learning with a little more intention and provides the funding to back up an effective educational plan. But when we try to shift classroom climate, the process must start with the mindset of leadership. In the classroom, that means it’s up to teachers!
Below, you’ll find four mindset practices that have the potential to shift classroom climate in powerful ways. As you build these four mindset practices into your own day, you can pass on these skills to your students. Specifically, they need tools to help them connect with others, particularly with those whom they view as different from themselves. As this skill grows, you’ll shift classroom climate more and more naturally.
1. Greet Students Daily
Stand at the door to welcome students by name. This gives a great message to all students that they are important to you:
- You’re happy to see them.
- You notice specific things about each person. (For example, when someone is back after being absent by saying, “Jake, nice to see you back again!”)
2. Build a Welcoming Committee
For younger grades, assign a few students each week to be the welcoming committee. Their job is to make sure that every student who walks in the room gets a “Hello, <name>” from another student. Over time, have students enlarge that greeting by complimenting the student on a skill or attribute. “Hello, <name>. I like your smile today!” (This is not a fashion-focused compliment.)
3. Assign Group Activity
Including activities daily that invite students to work in groups, particularly by changing those groups every week to help students who would otherwise not connect to work together.
4. Encourage Brainstorming
Structure group activities so everyone contributes. Teaching the value of brainstorming and how to add ideas without saying “that won’t work” because maybe even if it won’t, it will give someone else an idea that works.
Not only will these four mindsets help shift classroom climate, when implemented they can provide a sense of safety for students.