How I Create A Positive Classroom Culture

I create a positive classroom culture by building relationships.

Have you ever seen/heard this TED Talk before?

In this very powerful message, Ms. Pierson says (in part) "Every child deserves a champion.  An adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connections and insists they become the best they can be."

To me, this is the epitome of teaching.  Yes, there are standards to teach and tests to take, but without the relationships in a positive classroom culture, the standards and tests just won't matter to the students.  This is because as Ms. Pierson also says in the video above, "Kids don't learn from people they don't like".  Now that doesn't mean to be the students' best buddy or to let them rule the roost.  That means "seeking to understand before being understood".

I do this in several ways:

I try to learn everyone's name (all 125 of them!) by the end of the first week.  This communicates interest in knowing my students and helps us make that first connection.  Then I use their names to greet them as they enter the classroom.  They love that I know their names!

I incorporate many ways for students to share about themselves by making a classroom quilt and then sharing information in a discussion circle.  I make a square and share too!

Making a classroom quilt:  All students contribute a square to show the power of bringing all the class's talents and skills!

I use the picture book The Patchwork Quilt  by Valerie Flournoy to explain the concept of the quilt in this way:  Separately all the fabric pieces are lovely, but together they make something much bigger, stronger and more beautiful.  Likewise, when we all bring all of our likes, dislikes, strengths, skills and talents together, we can make one bigger, stronger and more beautiful community of learners.

3.  Our rules aren't called rules - they're agreements.  We all brainstorm what we need to be successful and then we modify the ideas until we all are in agreement.  Then, I summarized our thoughts into Prompt, Prepared, Responsible and Respectful.

What if your classroom rules were agreements on what the class needs to be successful instead of rules?My classroom "rules" are agreements instead.  It's a great way to build positive classroom culture!     

I have several weeks of these kinds of activities all planned out and ready to go!   Just click here to check out these positive classroom culture helpers!

Now this is a good start, but honestly building a positive classroom culture is an ongoing task.  It's about really knowing your students and staying tuned in.  It's about giving the benefit of the doubt, having fun with the students, being fair, having boundaries and being human.

Like Ms. Pierson said, it's all about leaving a legacy of relationships.

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  1. I love the idea of a classroom quilt!

  2. I want to be in your class. :) I love that you connect with students--the Ted Talk you shared is excellent. Relationships are so important in the classroom! Thanks for sharing!

  3. 125 names learned by the end of the week - impressive! I'm sure they appreciate it. "Now this is a good start, but honestly building a positive classroom culture is an ongoing task. It's about really knowing your students and staying tuned in. It's about giving the benefit of the doubt, having fun with the students, being fair, having boundaries and being human." Absolutely agree! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love this Ted Talk so much. Rita Pierson was such an inspiring and beautiful woman. Every teacher should watch this every year. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I love the quilt idea. It's all about the relationships we build, and it's clear that you are doing great things to build long and strong relationships with your students.

  6. I love TED Talks and really appreciate the message that Rita Pierson sends. There was a time that I thought it was ok "not to be liked" because I thought it meant that a teacher was doing his/her job well. I disagree, now, though. Why? I know that I always work harder for people that I like and respect!

  7. That classroom quilt is amazing! I love it! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Fun ideas and powerful Ted Talk (Happy tears welled up in my eyes.)

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Wow, what a great Ted Talk. That's one I haven't seen before. Thanks for sharing Lisa. We can catch a lot more flies with honey than we can with vinegar.


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