It can be difficult to motivate students and maintain productivity in the classroom. Whether you're going over material to help students review for a test or helping them learn something new, there are several things you can do to encourage engagement. It's not just about what you say or how you say it - the classroom environment can affect student productivity, too. In this post, I'll discuss 4 ways to improve the classroom environment to optimize student engagement.
cultivate a supportive space
It's important that the classroom is a place where everyone is treated equally and students are expected to help one another. Zero-tolerance for bullying should be among your classroom rules. Having non-negotiables with immediate consequences allow you to tackle unsafe behavior head on and make every student feel safe to be themselves. No one can learn well when they don't feel safe. Another tip from Edutopia is to address grudges or drama between students early on. If you notice tension building between students, create time and space for them to talk it out while you act as mediator.
create a warm space
Our environment affects how we feel - calm, energized, agitated, bored. A bare, sterile classroom does little to stir creative juices and yet, as students move through the school system, they often go from the highly decorated classrooms of elementary school to sparsely decorated rooms in high school.
Classroom decor doesn't need to be cheesy or over-the-top, and it may involve creating different spaces for students, including supplies bins for students who can't afford school supplies, and even featuring student projects to help foster pride. Displays to hang on your classroom door will engage your students before they step in. You can feature information relative to the curriculum you're covering to provide a visually engaging way for them to learn.
think about layout
The seating layout in a classroom can affect student productivity and various classroom layouts cultivate comfort while others cultivate efficiency. Younger high school students work best in organized column/row seating while older students can benefit from horseshoe-shaped layouts that allow everyone to be seen and facilitate discussion.
make it comfortable
Temperature and ventilation can improve productivity and improve focus for you and your students. Too hot and stuffy and students will feel lethargic. Too cold and they can have a tough time focusing. Did you know that the most common thermostat settings for "room temperature" come from setting office temperatures so men would be comfortable in suits? Having cooler temperatures geared for men's comfort can disadvantage women by lowering their ability to focus and perform some tasks. Consider meeting in the middle and encouraging students (and yourself) to dress in layers.
What steps do you take in your classroom to engage students and facilitate their learning?
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