3 Simple Ways To Create A More Positive Classroom Atmosphere


3 Simple Ways To Create A More Positive Classroom Atmosphere

by TeachThought Staff

Here are two questions to think about as you reflect on your daily instruction.

  1. When students enter my room, are they happy to be here?
  2. When they leave, are they smiling and feeling positive about their experience?

While there are hundreds of ideas that circulate daily about changing your classroom. There is one that is completely guaranteed to help your students enjoy class more.

I recall my senior year in high school, back in 1983. Yes, that’s a long time ago. I’d heard from my friends about a Spanish teacher named Mr. Black. They all mentioned how funny, positive and creative many of his lessons were. Because my typical high school class wasn’t anything to write home about, I was a little cynical about what they said, but also excited in the opportunity to have a different kind of teacher.  

When Mr. Black started his class, there was this incredible aura of positivity that surrounded not only him but also his room. Besides having quotes and pictures all over the walls, he actually took the time to share a “hello”, smile or positive greeting to all his students. Even though I remember some of the Spanish today, what has always stuck with me, was Mr. Black’s genuine desire to bring positive energy to the class. He made students want to come into his room. It was clear to all of his students, that having each teenager excited about learning all started with his ‘dynamics of positivity.’

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The ‘dynamics of positivity’ as I call them, can transform your classroom. I know that some might be cynical of such a strong statement. But, think about when you attend Professional Development sessions or hear a great speaker.  In most, if not all of those instances, there is a positive message that is consistently delivered. You leave the room feeling uplifted and ready to teach that next minute.

Your classroom is no different! From talking to thousands of students, it’s clear that every single one wants a positive teacher to help make their day better and their class more enjoyable. One of the best parts of this effort is the ease of bringing a message of positivity to your class.

It can be done on day one and every day after in small bits–and has the awesome perk of carrying absolutely no risk or waste. What could go wrong by smiling at your students, being happy with them, and promoting a “glass-half-full attitude?” It’s unlikely that many of your students are going to say, “Mr. and Ms. Smith, I really don’t like how positive you are. Please stop smiling, it puts me in a bad mood!”

Even though I have to admit, one of my students did mention to me that he couldn’t believe that I could be this positive all the time!  I just said, “I love teaching.” Challenges aside, what’s there to be negative about?

Here are 3 great ways to promote the dynamics of positivity in your classroom.

3 Simple Ways To Create A More Positive Classroom Atmosphere

1. Always greet students at the door.

This is something that most teachers are aware of, but because of a million different tasks, seem to forget about.  Getting the class started with a positive message allows for an immediate message of “I care” to resonate with students.  They know from the second they enter the room, that you at least are taking an interest in their lives. It also puts you in a good mood.  We all want to be shown respect and kindness. Students who say “hello” or ask you about your day are demonstrating that kind of personal connection that every teacher hopefully wants in their classroom.

2. Get your students up and moving at least once per class

As a Health and Physical Education teacher, I naturally have a bias towards exercise. But in polling many of my Health students, the huge majority feel that they are sitting too long and get bored by not moving.  

Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about taking 15 minutes out of your class to go run a mile! Rather, just getting them up for a minute and letting them chat with each other can promote an incredibly positive atmosphere.  Also, it gives you a chance to build connections with each student or small groups. Obviously, there are other ways to get students up in class, but that’s for another post.

3. Have all students do a positive reflection at the end of class.

Students frequently remember the very beginning and very end of the class. By having a discussion or just getting each student to write a positive part of what they experience that day, can really leave a student feeling happy and ready to move to another class or end the day feeling good about what transpired during your time together.  I love to keep a Google doc of each day in class. Every 5-10 days, we do a reflection of the key positive points we’ve covered. The results can be astounding and can be even stronger when you model the process and share your own.

Consider requiring students to share something positive about one other student related to that day’s activities/lesson. to keep students from only complimenting their friends and/or the same person each time, assigning a kind of rotation so throughout the year, each student ‘partners’ with every other student at least once as a kind of team-building activity.

Your students are going to enter and leave your room many times during the course of a year.  Even though many of your instructional lessons will be different, bringing a positive energy to every children/teen can make a world of difference in how they view your class, how you reflect on your class and most importantly, it will provide students with an experience that they always remember, just like my experience in Mr. Black’s class.

3 Simple Ways To Create A More Positive Classroom Atmosphere

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