5 Steps to Creating a Dynamic Classroom Culture
What do you do when you have 27 plus students in a classroom with different achievement and socioeconomic levels, with various disabilities and personalities, with discipline problems, and with diverse ethnic backgrounds? You must create a classroom culture where students respect themselves, you, and others. Because of the diversity, it’s important that students work together as a team so you can effectively teach.
One way to accomplish this is by creating a dynamic classroom culture using five essential elements that, if consistently implemented, will help you manage your class so you can teach and students can learn.
1. Intentional Instruction
Intentional instruction provides students with assignments that are tailor made to their academic strengths and weaknesses. It increases student independence by providing extra practice in areas of weakness and/or extends student learning. This can either be a folder student’s keep at their desk in which you place worksheets that target specific skills or it could be scheduled computer time using educational sites that target specific skills.
Having assignments readily available is valuable to creating a peaceful, harmonious classroom where all students are engaged—and engaged students decrease behavior problems.
Lack of consistency is confusing; therefore, routines and consistency must be in place especially during the first few weeks of school where classroom culture is established. Unfortunately, this is the step where many teachers get tired of implementing and give up. This is quite normal because being consistent is exhausting. It requires you to be repetitive in your action and limited in your dialogue with students. The classroom culture is enhanced when students know that the teacher is fair and just and the rules apply to everyone.
3. The Power of Relationships
During the first six weeks of school, building rapport with students will develop into relationships of mutual respect. This begins before students enter the classroom by greeting each student individually using their name. After students have gone to their lockers, have them line up without talking. Remember, specificity is the key. Asking students to line up quietly is different from lining up without talking. The student should greet you by name and you do the same. This is also a good way to learn all students’ names.
As the school year progresses and you learn more about the students and their families, ask them how their parents are doing or how their siblings are doing. Sometimes just asking them if they had a good morning, or saying it’s good to see you today will let students know that you care.
4. Class Meetings
Holding class meetings at the beginning of the day is another way to create a dynamic classroom culture. Students, especially elementary students, have numerous stories to tell, all which are important to them. Actively listening to them and responding by asking questions or making comments will usually bring a smile to any student. This is the time where we discuss what is going right—our glows—and what we need to improve on—our grows. Encourage students to be honest in both areas by explaining that it is your job as the teacher to teach them not only academics but how to exist in a democratic society, where not only they are important, but others are important as well. Your job is hindered when students are not honest.
5. 60 Second Transitions
Decreasing the amount of time students have to engage in off-task behavior is critical to the success of the classroom. Students rarely need more than 60 seconds to transition from one activity to another, if they are organized, work together, and are held accountable for their time. Using a bell, timer and team points works wonders in this area.
So, what do you do when you have 27 plus students in a classroom with different achievement and socioeconomic levels, with various disabilities and personalities, with discipline problems, and with diverse ethnic backgrounds? You use these five easy steps and create a dynamic classroom culture.
Dianne Browne is currently a third grade teacher at a charter school in the metro Detroit area. As a retired Detroit Public School Teacher, she has over 20 years teaching experience in public school which includes higher education. She has a Masters and Bachelor degree in English and a Master in the Art of Teaching degree. Ms. Browne is involved in various community organizations and is the mother of three adult children.