Expert Teachers are proficient at creating an optimal classroom climate for Learning
One way to create a climate where students feel safe and are able to take risks in their learning is by establishing relationships built on trust and understanding. Similar to any other relationship, teacher and student relationships function best when the teacher understands students and can differentiate instruction!
Evidence-based Rationale The LEAP learning framework (2017) reminds us of the importance of cultivating meaningful relationships by developing a deep understanding of each individual student! This means we must get to know their unique learning styles, strengths, interests, and needs etc. The framework explains that teachers can develop deep understanding of students by partnering with them directly in order to explore ways to modify and align content with their strengths and needs. Taking the time to engage in natural conversation with students during one-on-one lunches, small group settings, and giving specific feedback all serve as a powerful methods for understanding students interests, beliefs, and backgrounds.
Another way that we can ensure that students feel safe to take learning risks, is by supporting learners in articulating their interests, strengths, and needs. I find the LEAP framework as a beneficial tool because it provides teachers with specific ways we can provide supports for students. One of the ways we can do this is by establishing a culture that encourages learners to actively share their feelings and experiences while learning. This year, I have found a way to establish this culture through a "share star" system that allows students to reflect on their learning, as well as next steps and suggestions from the teacher and classmates. This share time has also been a great way to clearly define parameters of expected behaviors and closely monitor the behaviors. (Boynton, 2005) Students know that they are expected to use their learning time for practicing a skill and reflecting on their learning. They all know that every student, regardless of skill level, will share their learning experience and collaborate with others to identify next steps!
I am able to hold students accountable for their own learning time and clear up misconceptions through specific feedback. A few students are chosen to complete a "share star" each day after our literacy stations. Students are a big part of the feedback process to ensure they understand what is expected. We have a "friendly feedback" anchor chart which provides sentence stems to help students recognize a "glow" (what their classmate did well) as well as a "grow" (what their classmate could try next time). I have created a few sentence stems, which are typed onto a laminated star, to help support focused self and peer assessment.
I worked hard today because I ___(Task)_____. I need to practice ___(Strategy)___ to become better at ______(Skill)________. Can anyone tell me __________(Questions you still have) _____________?
This daily sharing time has been a consistent way for students to articulate their struggles, strengths, and identify next steps. Furthermore, this classroom procedure has helped to create an optimal classroom climate for learning!
Boynton, M., & Boynton, C. (2005). Educator's guide to preventing and solving discipline problems. Alexandris, VA: ASCD