Classroom Culture/Environment

Strategy: Weekly Check-In

  • Impact: Having a weekly check-in with students shows them that you care about their well-being and mental state. Sometimes these conversations are centered around their successes or struggles in school, but sometimes weekly check-ins be non-school related, such as talking about their basketball game or how their mom had a new baby. The purpose is to connect with your students on a deeper level that goes beyond the classroom.
  • Steps/Process: 
    1. Create a system in which you can keep track of who you have spoken to within a week. This can be as simple as a list of the names of students, where you can cross out a name once you’ve spoken to them.
    2. Compile a list of general questions that you can ask students, such as, “How are you feeling about this strategy?” “Can I make something more clear for you?” or, my personal favorite, “Do you have a grimlin (something they’re struggling with)? …what is it?”
    3. After speaking about content, it is always a plus to ask them about something outside of the classroom, such as, “Did you get to the next level of your video game?” “How is your little sister? I know you said she sprained her ankle.” “Did you win your track meet?” Making it more personal will promote better relationships and a positive classroom culture.
    4. Write it down! After meeting with each student, make note of what you discussed. This can be on your original check off list mentioned in step one. You can use these notes to refer back to during future meetings.
  • Resources: Article: Weekly Check-In

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Strategy: Story TimeStoryTimeImage

  • Impact: Having a Story Time once or twice a week allows students to get a glimpse into your life. Oftentimes students come in and out of teachers’ classrooms knowing nothing about them. By sharing funny or interesting stories, students may feel as if you’re just like them.
  • Steps/Process: Story Time is can be done any time during class and usually lasts about 10 minutes. This is great to do when students feel frustrated, need a “brain break” or need to get their wiggles out (restless). Funny stories are usually a hit in middle school classrooms, but base your story on how the students are feeling emotionally. If they’re feeling defeated, share a story that motivates them. If they’re restless, tell them a story that makes them laugh, causing energy to increase. This allows students to feel more connected to you, and builds a better bond. When bonds are created, student output is increased.
  • Resources: Make It Personal

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Strategy: Classroom Motto or Mission Statement

  • Impact: Creating a classroom motto or mission statement is great way to keep students motivated and hold them accountable for the work they do in the classroom.
  • Steps/Process: Day 1
    1. Whether creating a motivational statement or mission statement, you must first explain what it is to your students.
    2. After explaining, answer any  questions the students may have regarding the concept and/or purpose of a motto/mission.
    3. Have students, in groups, generate ideas on what they think the motto/mission should be or include. This should be done on one document per group.
    4. Collect each group’s ideas and review them.
    5. Find the commonalities in each group’s ideas and use them to create a motto/mission.
  • Steps/Process: Day 2
    1. Present the motto/mission to the class.
    2. Have an open discussion on changes that need to be made or suggestions.
    3. As students give suggestions, write them down on an anchor chart.
    4. Make changes to the motto/mission with the students until everyone agrees.
    5. After everyone agrees, write out the final mott/mission on an anchor chart and have every student sign it. This is their committment to upholding the motto/mission.
  • Resources: How to Create a Mission Statement

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Strategy: Open and Organized

  • Impact: Teacher cannot create positive classroom culture and environment without having an organized classroom. Sometimes students, as well as teachers, have to sift through cluttered and overwhelmed minds as they learn. The classroom environment should not contribute to that.
  • Steps/Process: 
    1. Compile a list of what you would like to be more organized in your classroom. This could be student supplies, a backpack area, the teacher desk, student bins, etc.
    2. Determine what works and doesn’t about how the items on your list are currently organized, and brainstorm ways in which it an be improved.
    3. Implement your new system. Example below.BinsImage.png
  • Resource 1: For example, a teacher has a current art supply system that is just not working. She keeps all of the supplies (markers, colored pencils, glue, etc.) in a small bin on the students’ desks/tables and it gets in the way during work time that does not require such supplies. She w
    rites down all the reasons this system does not work and brainstorms ways to fix it. She determined that if supplies were kept in one designated area, they would be more organized, and students can access the supplies when they need them. She used her current bins, but housed each type of supply in separate bins. She then labeled the bins and placed them on top of a small bookshelf in the back of the classroom. Now, students can take what they need at appropriate times and have a free and clear work space where learning is maximized and clutter free!
  • Resource 2: Article: 20 Tips
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