It becomes increasingly easy for teachers to point out the traits in students that they wish were “different” or “do not want to see” as the year goes on. Can we just as easily describe the traits or characteristics that we want to experience from our students? Can we identify what positive attributes we try to foster in our students to help create a safe and supportive learning environment? And what can we do to help elicit those characteristics from our students? Lets take a look at our students from head to toe to see which characteristics will help create a positive school culture and how we, as educational professionals, can help create it!
What we can do as educators to help create an environment that helps support positive traits in our students:
- Embed social/emotional learning into everything we teach. Concepts such as self-advocating, standing up for others, being passionate, empathy vs. sympathy, cultural diversity/competency, awareness of self and others, sensitivity, intuition, etc. can be embedded and taught in all academic subject areas. Don’t be afraid to put a lesson on hold for 5 minutes if there is a life lesson that can be learned form an experience in the classroom. These moments are priceless and can’t always be created for learning.
- Find ways to teach to ALL learners. There are many modalities of teaching and it is critical to teach to the different aspects of the brain and to our different learners and abilities. Consider music, art, dance, writing, speaking, problem-solving, debating,
- Find strengths in all students and help foster them. Every student has strengths and every student has weaknesses. Some make it easier to see strengths than others. Find a strength in every student you work with. Make sure that you find ways to recognize or acknowledge this/these strengths.
- Create an environment that is emotionally and physically safe for learning, wondering, questioning, disagreeing, etc. Do not allow judgment, making fun, or ridiculing to be an acceptable part of your classroom environment.
- Create an environment that is culturally competent. Make it an expectation to respect people of all races, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, genders, sexual orientation, etc.
- Be language neutral. Don’t make assumptions about your students, those who live in their households, or what abilities they have. Allow them to reveal themselves to you without judgment.
Think positive. Be proactive. Nurture partnerships.