There’s so much that goes into building a positive classroom environment. There are the physical elements, like having the right number of desks so there are enough seats to go around and a chalkboard to jot down your daily lessons.
But there’s so much more to building a positive classroom environment than the “stuff” inside it. If you want to build a classroom environment that fosters growth and learning, it needs to be one where your students feel safe, respected, valued, and able to fully be their authentic selves.
But how, exactly, do you do that? How do you, as a teacher, build a positive classroom environment—the kind of environment where your students (and you!) will thrive? Read on for some helpful tips and tricks to get your started.
Define your classroom values together
If you want to run an efficient classroom, rules are important. But if you want to build a truly positive classroom environment (for your students and for yourself), there’s something that’s arguably even more important. And that’s your classroom values.
Your classroom values—like respect, honesty, and fairness—are the guiding principles of your classroom. They’re who you aspire to be as a classroom and a community and lay the groundwork for how your students interact with you, each other, and their environment. They’re an incredibly important part of building a positive classroom environment—and if you really want them to resonate with your students, why not involve them in the process?
At the beginning of the school year, have a sit down with your students and define your classroom values together. What’s important to you as a collective classroom? Is it respect; making sure that every teacher and student feels respected, understood, and valued? Is it authenticity; giving every person the opportunity to show up to class as their authentic self? Is it teamwork; standing up against bullying and working together? Is it vulnerability; being able to ask for help whenever you need it without shame or judgement?
Ask your students what values are important to them and how they see that coming alive in the classroom. Then, put all of your values on a poster and hang it for the entire classroom to see. When your students look at it, they’ll be reminded of the values they chose for themselves—and how they play into building a classroom environment where they feel happy, safe, and valued.
Once you have your classroom values locked in, you’ll need a poster to display them in your classroom. Get started with one of Canva’s poster templates, like the Tutoring - School Ideas Poster or the Back To School Greeting Poster.
Make learning fun
Obviously, students are in school to learn. But if you really want to create an engaging and positive classroom environment, why not do everything you can to make the learning process real fun for your students?
There are a variety of ways to infuse a little bit of fun into your teaching (and make for a more positive classroom environment in the process), including: Gamify the learning process
If there’s one thing kids love, it’s games. So, if you want to make learning more fun, why not gamify the process?
Just about every lesson or subject offers an opportunity to transform learning into a game. Want to get your students to remember key dates and people from a period of history? Turn those facts into a Jeopardy-inspired trivia game. Want your students to read more books throughout the year? Turn it into a competition, complete with a “reading leaderboard” where students can track their progress and see who’s pulling ahead.
The point is, students love playing games—and if you can turn the learning process into a game, they’ll love it just as much.
Think outside of the box
There’s nothing wrong with traditional teaching methods like lectures, quizzes, and textbooks—but they’re not exactly the most exciting. So, if you want your students to be more engaged in their learning (and have some fun in the process), you’re going to have to think outside of the box.
Is your class learning about marine life? Instead of reading a chapter from a science textbook, arrange a field trip to your local aquarium. Do you want your students to give a report on a historical figure? Instead of asking them to write a paper, have them dress up like the figure and give a presentation, in character, to the class.
The point is, there’s no right or wrong way to teach—so why not think outside of the box and go with the fun way?
Want to brainstorm fun ways to think outside of the box and make learning more fun for your students? Keep your ideas organized with one of Canva’s templates, like the Green Palm Leaves Brainstorming Graphic Organizer or the Coral and Green Brush Strokes Brainstorming Graphic Organizer.
One of the easiest ways to make learning more fun for your students? Let them learn together.
Pairing students together is a great way to make the process of learning more enjoyable, so look for ways to encourage collaboration in the classroom. Start study groups that allow your students to prepare for tests together. Instead of individual projects, assign group projects that allow your students to brainstorm and work together. If you know a student is struggling with a particular subject, pair them with a peer mentor who excels to help them get up to speed on their assignments.
The point is, learning is always more fun when students can learn together—so take advantage of every opportunity to encourage collaboration in your classroom.
Assigning a group project? Help your students collaborate, stay focused, and stay organized with one of Canva’s project report templates, like the Orange Economics Project Report or the Yellow and White Table Project Status Report.
Today’s kids are super tech-savvy; chances are, they know their way around an iPhone or a laptop better than you do! So, if you want to make learning more fun for your students, why not incorporate the technology they’re so familiar with right into your lesson plan?
Bringing technology into the classroom is a great way to grab your students’ attention and make the learning process more relevant, engaging, and (of course) fun. Want to get your students excited about a history lesson? Find a fun podcast on the topic and have them listen as a homework assignment. Teaching the basics of multiplication? Find a fun game, download it to an iPad, and let your kids play it during downtime or recess.
The point is, technology offers a variety of learning opportunities—and for today’s tech-savvy students, those opportunities are extra fun.
Give everyone a chance to shine
When you’re building a positive classroom environment, you want that environment to be positive for everyone. But not all students are created equal; some students will thrive in an environment where there is a lot of interaction while others would prefer a more laid-back quiet experience. Some students will knock it out of the park with a presentation in front of the class while other students really come alive on the page.
That’s why it’s so important to build a classroom environment where every student has a chance to shine. Make sure to mix up your teaching style, assignments, lesson plans, and class activities to appeal to a wide range of students, personalities, and learning styles.
Building a classroom environment that caters to every type of student takes a lot of planning. Stay organized with one of Canva’s lesson plan templates, like the Pale Green Leaves Pattern Kindergarten Lesson Plan or the Old Rose and Cream Daily Lesson Plan.
Allow your students to explore their creativity
The classroom is a place to learn the skills students will need to excel in school and in life. But it’s also a place for them to explore their creativity—and part of building a positive classroom environment is giving them the time, space, and tools to do that.
If you want to help your students explore their creativity, you have to get...well, creative. Here are a few creative classroom ideas to help you get your students’ creative juices flowing:
Having free time to create without boundaries is a great way to inspire your students’ creativity. And that includes crafts!
Build a craft corner in your classroom complete with all the materials your students might need to craft their own creations; think paint, construction paper, clay, glitter...whatever materials will work in your classroom and for your students’ age group. Then, schedule a time each week where students can head to the craft corner and create whatever they want—no prompts, no limits, just free creative time.
Giving your students the time and space to create and craft without limits is a great way to foster their creativity (and have a lot of fun in the process!).
Crafting is a great way to inspire your students’ creativity. But you don’t need scissors or glue to be creative—a paper and pen can be just as creative.
Just like you schedule time for the craft corner, schedule freewriting time for your students. You can either give them a prompt or let them go wild and write about whatever they’d like.
Not only will freewriting time help build your students’ creative muscles, it will also help them develop their writing skills. It’s a win-win!
Writing prompts are a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Help your students get their ideas onto paper with one of Canva’s worksheet templates, like the Blue Analysis Writing Prompt Worksheet or the Purple Patterned Writing Prompt Worksheet.
All of your students have goals. So why not help them bring those goals to life?
Vision boards are a great way for your students to bring their goals to life and act as a visual reminder of what they’re trying to accomplish in the school year. You can have your students go old-school, cutting images from magazines and assembling them on a posterboard—or, if you want to be more tech-friendly, you can have them create a digital vision board and find and assemble the images that inspire them online.
A vision board is, at the core, a collage. Want to go digital with your student vision boards? Get started with one of Canva’s collage-inspired templates, like the Minimalist Mood Board Photo Collage or the Pastel Retail Coffee Photo Collage.
Be open to feedback
Building a positive classroom environment isn’t a “one and done” scenario. A lot seeing what works—and, more importantly, what doesn’t—and being willing to change, grow, and evolve with your students. And in order to do that, you need to be open to feedback.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to gather feedback from your students and school community, including:
- Send out teacher report cards. You give your students report cards on a regular basis. So why shouldn’t they do the same? Teacher report cards are a great opportunity to get feedback from your students on your lessons, teaching style, and overall classroom environment.
- Have a feedback box. Some students might not feel comfortable giving you direct feedback. And that’s ok! Keep a feedback box in the classroom where students can share anonymous feedback.
- Enlist the help of another teacher. Student feedback is great. But feedback from another teacher can help you take things to a whole new level! Ask another teacher to sit in with your class and offer feedback on everything from how to make your lessons more engaging to how to get your students more involved in the learning process. Getting another teacher’s perspective can help you think outside of the box—and make your classroom environment the best (and most positive!) it can be!
- Have an open door policy. If you want to truly build a positive classroom environment, your students need to feel like they can come to you with their suggestions and concerns. Make sure you class knows that you have an open door policy when it comes to classroom issues—and whenever they want to talk about how to make the classroom a more positive place, you’ll create the time and space to listen.
Teacher report cards are an effective (and fun!) way to gather feedback from your students. Flip the script and give your students the power to grade you with one of Canva’s report card templates, like the Confetti Preschool Report Card or the Cadet Blue Border Parent Report Card.