In order to teach effectively there must be diligent effort put forth into creating a positive climate within the classroom. There is an enormous amount of research dedicated on how to create this type of positive environment that revolves around the same reoccurring themes. In the book The Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano, he refers to multiple actions, supported by many other academics, that will aid in this endeavour.
The most important action is “know your students”. This provides the solid foundation on which everything is dependent upon. In the article, Four Ways Teachers Can Show They Care by Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D., she touches upon this very same fact as Marzano. Knowing your students interests can be a very valuable asset when it comes to designating group project topics. Profiles are a great way of obtaining this type of information and getting them to do this digitally on a platform that all the students in the class can see will also benefit with class cohesion as well as aiding in your student familiarization. This is something the teacher should participate in as well; create your profile so your students become familiar with you as well. There are many programs out there that are perfect for this exercise such as glog, and piktochart.
You also need to show some type of affection for your students. This can be done in many ways. In the videos previously viewed for this activity we watched how certain strategies such as “peace keepers” and “allies” can be a valuable way to show that not only do we care as teachers but as a class as a whole. (Smart Hearts – Social & Emotional Learning Overview, Change Attitudes Toward Bullying: Be an Ally) The ally strategy included both teacher and students in resolving classroom disputes. It went as far as creating contracts and check-ups to see if the allies were behaving accordingly. This is a strategy I have not used but am very interested in implementing within my classroom. Communication is such an important element in this process and the time being spent with these resolutions will not only show that you do care but provide a basis to create the team/family environment.
Marzano also talks about how a teacher’s physical behaviour can help aid in a positive climate. When talking to a student it is important to show them that you care, and this can be achieved by looking them in the eye when you speak, being enthusiastic about what they are talking about, show you are interested, and show them you have emotion. He also talks about how humour can play a big role in adding to a positive climate. One tip, I found interesting for those days you are not feeling great, Marzano stated was to, “keep a book of jokes or cartoons handy and read something funny at the beginning of class.” (p. 158) This is a great way to start the class and have that positive energy right from the beginning. Also, don’t be afraid to become animated within the class, with lower grade levels this can be an extremely valuable technique in creating a positive atmosphere.
One of Marzano’s most unique points that he offered was how to be “emotionally objective” (p.159). This was something I really took to heart because we have to, as teachers, take into consideration what other circumstances might be at play that are causing a student to behave in the manner that they are. We don’t know what happened the night before and we should not judge their behaviour solely on the environment in the classroom. This is a great way to show students that you do in fact care. He also talked about maintaining a “cool exterior” (p. 160) and this is a situation where I believe it is most applicable. Take a moment to ask a student if everything is ok, try to find the root on why this student is acting the way he is. Always maintain a concerned and cool exterior to provide the student with a safe and stable person in which he can truthfully express himself.
These are some great ways to show concern and caring within the classroom. It is a matter of using these techniques and strategies on an everyday basis to increase your effectiveness as a teacher. No class will be the same and neither will any student.
Four Ways Teachers Can Show They Care by Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D