Monday, December 2, 2013

Five Unconventional Ways to Promote a Positive Classroom Environment

This is not a peer-reviewed article. This is not a book on educational theory. I bet I won't even be asked to write for this blog again in the future after this post. Don't expect to see me writing for educational journals because what I am about to share has nothing to do with educational psychology, theory, or method. In fact, I bet it goes against a lot of what is taught is these classes and books. What follows are five simple things I have done to show the students that I care about them, their lives, and their interests. Care equals cooperation and cooperation makes for a great classroom environment. Enjoy.

  1. High Five Fridays – Imagine a high school biology teacher that was the head coach of the football team, had handlebar mustache, and wore snake skin boots. He was my biology teacher and every Friday without fail he would greet his students with a high five and the greeting “High Five Friday!” It was awesome. This simple act further reinforced the fact that he cared about me as a person. Now that I am a teacher, I try to do this every Friday as well. P.S. - he was my favorite teacher in high school and this is one of the most vivid memories I have of him.

  1. Viral Viewings – I think we can all agree that youtube has revolutionized the teaching profession. Here is my question for you. Would viewing a 30 second video of a man playing a trombone with his toes to start class hurt or help your classroom environment? Or what about the 7 minute video documenting a team that let's a special needs player score a touchdown in his last game? Does that help or hurt? Sometimes bigger lessons can be taught using a 2 minute video than a 2 minute bell ringer...just a thought.

  1. Hallway Hellos – There is a student at the school I teach at named Morgan. I have never had her in class but at the beginning of lunch you can find her standing next to me saying hello to any and everyone that walks past on their way to eat. I do not remember how this started but it has become a can't miss tradition in each of our days. There is one student that I remember saying hi to after learning their name and I have now had several conversations with this individual. It is amazing what a simple hello can do especially in a high school filled with maturing adolescents.

  1. Random Topic of the Day – I have a colleague that starts his Men's Health class and Men's Christian Decisions class with a “random topic of the day”. It really has little to nothing to do with the class but he told me this, “The time that we spend talking to each other about any and everything makes it possible for us to have the real conversations that make a lasting and eternal difference.”

  1. Social Summaries – In college I had a professor that would end each of his Friday classes with a simple question, “Well what fun and exciting things are going on in the bustling metropolis of Seward, Nebraska?” We would then proceed to share weekend plans, or lack there of, with our professor. I doubt that he really, truly cared about what we were doing that weekend but I have always remembered and respected him for taking the time to let us know that he was interested in our lives.

Don't expect to see “High Five Fridays” in any academic journals anytime soon but hopefully we'll see it or something accomplishing the same goals in a few more schools soon.