Imagine, you’re 7 years old and asked to help decorate your new classroom. Or your middle school social studies teacher welcomed your curiosity on a history lesson that led to a creative group project. What would your response have been if your high school math teacher gave you permission to lead a geometric garden project that aligns to your environmental science interests?
These classroom experiences don’t have to be a dream. Instead, coupled with proper classroom management and strong instruction, they can be a real possibility for students. An effective learning environment thrives on strong teacher instruction and clear roles and responsibilities for learners.
Teachers are ultimately responsible for classroom management, however students play an important role as well. Students directly inform the structure and learning atmosphere as members of the classroom community. Together, they create a culture of learning, accountability and inclusivity.
A teacher's purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own image.
Effective learning is co-created by students and teachers with the intention of building vibrant classrooms. Doug Lemov in Teach Like A Champion provides some insight into best practices for teachers to achieve this. Of the practices, I am always excited about Joy Factor! Lemov suggests that this is a critical component to creating a sense of belonging and encourages student engagement. Just as the teacher is responsible for facilitating the joy in learning, students are critical in being responsible for their own participation. This sounds inviting, but can unfortunately not always be easy to implement.
Each class should agree upon classroom norms. When students are invited to provide input in classroom rules, they are more likely to hold each other accountable. For a teacher, that could mean less teacher-to-student directives and more peer-to-peer course correction.
Students should come to school prepared to participate. Full engagement maximizes opportunity for learning and sets the tone for the classroom. This includes but is not limited to, asking and answering questions, completing in-class assignments, and consistently aligning behavior to classroom norms.
Students should always acknowledge that they are a part of a learning community. Each person is responsible for taking ownership of their actions in a way that values building safe and positive classrooms. Student accountability encourages student learning, and helps improve academic performance and achievements.
As the teacher, you can create these opportunities. Naming student roles and responsibilities should begin when students first arrive in the learning environment. Be open to students having more ideas about roles and responsibilities they would like to own. Inviting students to be strategic partners in their learning affirms their roles in the classroom, thus, building confidence and character in themselves.
Here at Kickboard we have seen school culture transform because of effective implementations of PBIS. We also have the tools and resources to support your school team as they begin to implement PBIS as a way to promote positive school culture. Click here to learn more about how Kickboard can support PBIS in your school.