Organising for Lifelong Learning
Michael Morpurgo, British Children’s Laureate, aptly said, ‘It’s the teacher that makes the difference, not the classroom.’ A hostile, chaotic and out of control class reflects a lot about the teacher who is in the class. Teachers often attribute this, to the type of students coming to school but the fact remains that the classroom climate doesn’t just happen—it’s created! Regardless of your students’ past experiences, there are things you can do to deliberately shape the climate of your classroom into a positive learning environment where the learner feels safe, respected, welcomed, and supported. The very presence of such a teacher sets the mood, attitude, standard and tone of the class.
How to make this possible?
Three things that can make this possible are
+ Rapport building
+ Clear communication of behavioura
+ and academic expectations and
+ Promoting positive peer relationships
What can I do for Rapport building?
Try these –
Greet your students cheerfully and also ask them about their wellbeing. Take a few minutes to settle down the class and once the students are comfortable only then start the class. Address the students by name as it makes them happy that they are cared for and noticed. Appreciate the positive behaviour that you notice in the students, for example – the students have learnt to place their bags near the desk, they have learnt to keep their table and chair in order, they have learnt to share things and so on, the list can be endless. Knowing your students personally helps, so find out about their family through a one on one interaction, inquire about their family members, their hobby classes, their friends, their problems and all that’s going on in their little minds.
Be sensitive to their physical and emotional needs and help them or find help for them. Watch the facial expressions to understand if the student is trying to hide something that is bothering him/her. Bullying is common, only a vigilant teacher can nip it in the bud.
Never say something to your student that you don’t intend doing, for example – ‘I will give you a TC’ , or ‘ I will stop teaching your class’. When you say something you must do it. Build a relationship of trust and see your students grow on confidence.
How to convey behavioural and academic expectations?
Try these –
Engage your students in setting up classroom rules. The joy of following the rule is in itself a great incentive and the determination of taking the punishment set by the students is in itself a promise of not repeating the same again. Classroom rules create a predictable, safe learning environment for the students. Rules provide students clear boundaries and opportunities to practice self-regulation and make good choices. Learning improves when students feel safe and respected both emotionally and physically in the class room environment.
Class rules could be –
+ I will follow the below given points
+ I will raise my hand, wait for my turn and not answer out of turn
+ I will not nag by screaming ‘ Ma’am, Ma’am’
+ I will wait for the notebook to be collected from my table either by the teacher or the student who has been assigned the duty
+ I will value the pages of my books and notebooks
+ I will write my homework in the school almanac
+ I will complete my class work
+ I will throw refuse in the dustbin and not out of my class window
+ I will talk in a soft voice and not scream
+ I will walk and not run or slide in the classroom
+ I will maintain distance from the Smart Board
+ I will bring my bag as per the timetable
+ I will not leave my class without the teacher’s permission
+ I will wear my coaching uniform/shoes from home
Academic Expectations –
Teachers must create an environment where every child has to answer even if it is repeating the correct answer. The answer initially can be given by the teacher or a student but the one who could not answer it will have to repeat it. The next step will be providing useful cues to the students and then the class taking it further. This gives a message to the class that there is no way to just keep quiet in the class. Students must ultimately demonstrate their responsibility and ability to identify the right answer.
In a classroom it is important that the teacher sets a high standard for correctness: 100 percent. The teacher should be able to push the students towards the correct answer rather than rounding off with the correct answer. An incomplete answer cannot be addressed as ‘Right’, instead the teacher must point out that there is some more to it.
Another important thing that teachers must never lose focus on is ‘Deviation’. Students may divert from the topic while answering questions but the teacher must get back to the topic under discussion and inform the class that it would be dealt with later. Teachers must insist on the usage of correct word or technical word when students attempt answering questions.
The teacher as a motivator must lead the students to set small achievable goals that are measurable, real and time bound. The goals should be shared with the class and teacher so that each student feels committed and inspired to achieve it.
Every little success must be applauded and acknowledged thus helping the students to move to the next higher step. Regular supervision by the teacher and sharing the progress with the students will keep them focused on the goal to be achieved.
When teachers have high expectations from students and provide tasks that are engaging and of high interest, students build selfesteem, increase in confidence and improve academic performance. An engaged class can never be noisy and chaotic.
Promoting positive peer relationships
Try this –
Creating positive peer relationships means creating an environment where your students support and are kind to one another. Some ways to achieve this are: Regular Interaction: Five minute of casual positive interaction between students on a daily basis helps in understanding the mood and social dynamics of the class. The class feels safe in the presence of the class teacher and is able to speak its mind freely.
Students may have problems during recess time, in the playground or during changeover of teachers. These can be discussed on a regular basis sending a strong message to the trouble makers that they cannot get away with their methods. This helps create a positive classroom climate built on trust and respect.
Team building activities: Plan games/ activities that encourage positive interactions in the class. Activities that help students know each other or projects that provide opportunity to students to interact and explore will build team spirit in the group. Each student depends on the other group members to successfully complete the task. Expectations about behaviour in the group should be made explicit and grading the behaviour helps in achieving positive peer relationship.
As a teacher observe if students are able to find friends or have problems getting along. Find out who has the least and maximum number of friends in the class. Talking to students one on one will help the teacher to identify the reasons for the same. Accordingly a follow up can help like the seating plan can be modified, groups for group activities can be balanced out so that they find occasion for making more friends.
Organising students, space, time, and materials facilitates a productive working environment and best learning experiences for lifelong learning. We can do it and we must do it.
Rajni Jauhari, with academic experience of 28 years, is the Principal of Salwan Public School, Tronica City, Ghaziabad. She has successfully completed the CBSE Accreditation process and her school became the first school in India to get the Accreditation Certificate for 5 years. She has been conducting workshops and awareness programmes for school teachers on CCE, Project based learning, Class Room Management, Circle Time, Multiple Intelligence inspired lesson plans & Democratic Schools, etc. She has served in various senior positions in a number of educational institutions. Rajni is a post-graduate in Psychology and English Literature and also has a B.Ed. degree. She was sponsored for a vocational training programme in Australia by the CBSE; has undergone training on Multiple Intelligence in the USA and is a certified Microsoft trainer.