Almost everyone has had a teacher that has shaped their life in a powerful and positive way. These are the teachers that support us and make us feel safe and respected, and the teachers that push us to do our best work.
I remember when I was in grade 11 back in 2001. We used to talk about how funny our English teacher was in class, Mr Tom Fakude, which we used to call Bra Tom. We used to talk about how he was positive about his lessons and how creative most of his lessons were.
When Bra Tom started his lessons there was this incredible atmosphere of positive energy that surrounded not only him but also his classroom. Even though he had colourful pictures and quotes on him classroom walls, he actually took his time to greet us with a smile. Even though I still can’t remember some of the things he was teaching me, what has always stuck with me was his desire to bring about positive energy to the class.
He made his us want to come to class even those who bank classes didn’t bank Bra Tom’s class. We were all aware that his aim before the lesson was to get us excited about learning and this helped us develop a good attitude towards his lessons.
You know learners who can develop a good attitude towards your lessons as a teacher, can really transform your classroom. I know that this may sound like a very strong statement but think about it, when you attend some personal development training and suddenly the person who is speaking ‘knocks you off your feet’ with his great words, there’s a positive message that is being consistently delivered. You will leave that room feeling uplifted and ready to face your challenges.
It’s clear that every single learner wants a positive teacher to help make their day and their lessons more enjoyable. So the best part is to be able to ease the bringing of a positive message to your class. You can do this on the first day you start teaching and then do it gradually bit by bit every day.
I mean there’s absolutely nothing to lose but everything to gain. What could go wrong by smiling at your learners, being happy with them and promoting a positive attitude towards learning? It’s highly unlikely that a lot of your learners might see something wrong by you smiling at them when they say: “Sir, I really don’t like how positive you are. Please stop smiling; it puts me in a bad mood.”
So here are 3 simple hacks that can help you to create a positive learning atmosphere in your classroom:
- Always greet your learners at the door.
This is something that most teachers should be aware of, but because teachers are bombarded with millions of different tasks everyday they seem to forget about it. Getting your class started with a positive message sets a tone of “I care” to resonate with the learners. When they enter your classroom they know that you care about them and this also puts you in a good mood. Who doesn’t want to be shown respect and kindness?
You know learners who greet you and ask about your day are clearly showing that kind of personal connection that every teacher wants in their classroom.
- Get them to stand up and seat at least 3 times to before the start of the lesson
As a person who exercises regularly I don’t have a bias towards exercising. Getting my learners to stand up and sit at least 3 times before the lesson starts won’t feel like they were sitting for too long and might get bored by not moving. I’m not saying that you must spend 15 minutes telling them to stand and sit but just for a minute and let them talk to each other just before the lesson starts to promote a positive atmosphere.
- Get your learners to do positive reflection at the end of the class
Your learners are good at remembering what happened at the beginning and at the end of the class. So having a discussion about a positive part of what they have experienced during the lesson can leave them feeling happy and ready to move on to another class. You can also request them to share something positive about each other related to the lesson or activity. Also make sure to keep your learners from only complimenting their friends or the same person each time by using some kind of rotation where each learner can partner with every other learner at least once as a kind of team building activity.
During the year a lot of your learners will be coming in and out of your classroom. Even though your lessons may not be the same, building a positive attitude to every learner can make a world of difference in how they view your class, how you reflect on your class and most importantly, it will provide them with an experience that they will always remember.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think are some of the ways you can use to promote a positive learning atmosphere in your classroom? Let me know in the comments below