If asked to look back on your favorite class in grade school, you’d likely describe an environment that made you feel safe and valued, led by a teacher with whom you had a good relationship. These elements are essential when it comes to building a positive learning environment. Below are tips and strategies you can use in the first days, weeks, and months in order to create the classroom environment you want for your students.
1. Participate in first-day icebreakers
Break the first day jitters with a fun icebreaker or team building exercise with your students. If you’re in need of some ideas, check out our list of classroom icebreakers.
2. Write classroom introductions
Write an introduction letter to your students and ask for one in return. This will not only allow you to learn more about the kids in your class, but you’ll also be able to gauge their level of writing.
3. Create a classroom contract together
Have your students help create a classroom contract that includes class norms, expectations of students, and expectations of you as their teacher. This will let them feel like a valued part of the classroom and allow you to begin building positive relationships with your new students from day one.
4. Use humor to explain class rules and procedures
Most classrooms cover procedures and expectations during the first week of school. Liven up this usually dry presentation by incorporating memes.
5. Allow students to help decorate your classroom
Rather than spending time decorating your classroom during preplanning, have students help you determine where to hang posters, pictures, etc. Better yet, have an introductory activity where students’ work can be used to decorate your classroom. This will give students ownership over what your room looks like.
6. Utilize social media to communicate with students and parents
Creating a classroom Instagram, twitter, etc. will allow you to add a visual component when communicating with parents, and serve as a relevant tool to connect with students.
7. Remind parents and student with Remind
Remind is a free app that allows teachers to keep parents and students informed. You can send text messages, photos, documents, links, and more. And phone numbers are kept private, so it’s safe to use!
8. Don’t be afraid to sow your excitement!
It’s time to ditch the “no smiling before Christmas” rule. Attitudes are often contagious. If you’re excited for the new school year, your students will be too.
9. Build positive relationship with parents early
While the first weeks back to school are often hectic, it’s important to reach out to parents early on in order to build positive relationships. Try calling every parent to tell them something positive about their child. This personal touch helps set a good tone for the rest of the year. Check out this article from Edutopia that highlights the power of the positive phone call home.