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What We’re Reading: Creating a Positive Classroom Climate

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According to the Committee for Children, a nonprofit working globally to promote children’s social and academic success,classroom climate refers to the prevailing mood, attitudes, standards, and tone you and your students feel when in your classroom. A negative classroom climate feels hostile, chaotic, and out of control while a positive classroom climate feels safe, respectful, welcoming, and supportive of student learning.

In Visible Learning for Teachers (2012), John Hattie found that a positive classroom climate was among the more critical factors to promote learning. In classrooms with a positive climate, students feel more connected to school—they want to be there. They are part of something; they belong.

Research by several individuals on school connectedness is linked to higher grades, higher test scores, and lower dropout rates, regardless of students’ socioeconomic status.[1] When students feel safe and respected at school both emotionally and physically, they are better able to focus on learning.

Here are some suggestions to develop a positive classroom climate:

  • Develop and reinforce classroom rules and norms that clearly support safe and respectful behavior. Doing this with your students increases their ownership.
  • Promote positive peer relationships. When you notice positive interactions, comment on them.
  • Nurture positive relationships with all students. Let your students know that you not only care about their progress, but that you also care about them as individuals.

Looking into a classroom in a Leader in Me School, one would likely find all of the above. The
7 Habits provide the universal, timeless principles and the common language to support classroom rules and norms and introduce a positive way for students and teachers to interact. Due to the ubiquitous nature of The Leader in Me, students hear the same message in each classroom—you are responsible for your actions and together we are stronger. This provides not only a positive classroom climate but also a positive school climate.

How do you foster a positive climate in your classroom or school? Let us know in the comments below.

[1] Blum & Libbey, 2004; Jackson & Davis, 2000; Klem & Connell, 2004, MacIver & Epstein, 1991; McNeely & Falci, 2004; National Association of Secondary School Principals, 2006

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Written by Judy Yauch
Judy has spent her entire career in the field of education in the roles of teacher, educational sales representative, education business co-owner, and writer. Her current position has enabled her to merge these past experiences and contribute to The Leader in Me process development since its inception. Since receiving 7 Habits training in 1998, Judy has been intrigued by the possibilities of the content. After experiencing the 7 Habits, Judy left the training with thoughts of the impact the principles could have had if she had learned them at younger age. When the opportunity came to help create The Leader in Me process and bring this content to children, Judy enthusiastically accepted the challenge. As a researcher and lead writer on the product-development team at FranklinCovey Education, Judy has turned her varied experiences in the education field and love of learning into content for The Leader in Me. Some of her contributions include the K–9 student materials, K–9 Teacher Editions, content for various training days, coaching content, The Leader in Me Online content, and numerous other facets of the process. Judy received her B.S. in emotional impairment and her M.A. in early childhood education, both from Central Michigan University. Judy lives in Milford, Michigan, with her husband Steve. She has the opportunity to see her two married children and three grandchildren often, as they all live within walking distance. Judy enjoys spending time in northern Michigan, flea markets, motorcycle rides, yoga, and long walks.  

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