Create a culture of learning in your classroom
Maybe you’ve witnessed a classroom where the focus on learning is intense.
A hum of excitement resonates in the air, and everyone, the teacher and students alike, goes about their work with a focused purpose. Everyone is engaged. The workflow is fluid. Routines are seamless. The students help each other succeed.
Maybe that classroom is yours.
If it’s not, it can be.
Explain the plan
A culture of learning consists of specific thinking habits.
What your students think about themselves and what they believe they are capable of are part of their thinking habits. Some of these habits have been formed in their home environments. Your thinking habits are part of your classroom, as well.
The key to creating your classroom learning culture lies in showing your students the high expectations you have for them. Talk with them about:
- What does engaged learning look like?
- What would the student be doing in this environment?
- What would the teacher be doing?
- How okay is it to make mistakes?
- What kinds of things should be celebrated?
When you establish the model you have in mind for a culture of learning, it’s time to inspire your students.
Inspire your students
Your next step is to inspire your student to create a learning culture in the classroom. The word “inspire” means to breathe life into,” and that’s what you’re doing at this stage.
You can inspire your students in these ways:
- Allow for student voice. Let your students express their opinions, even if they are different from yours or their peers.
- Embrace failure. Failure is learning. As Thomas Edison observed, he learned many ways not to make a light bulb before coming up with one that worked.
- Provide ongoing feedback. Your students need to know how they’re doing.
You’re breathing life into your classroom culture.
Sustain the culture
Once you’ve set a culture of learning in place, you’ll want to sustain it.
- Encourage curiosity in your students by asking them questions that make them eager for discovery.
- Invite students to problem solve so they can experience success, even if they fail first.
- Find the positive and show that you value it. Especially reinforce the positive behaviors you agreed at the onset of your transformation.
Behind the scenes
What happens when you get a new student in the middle of the year?
Go back to step one and explain the plan. It’s how you “do business” in the classroom. A new student might not recognize the learning culture and the parameters you’ve set.
You must also plan for the times when you might not be in the classroom.
If you have to take a sick day, or you’re required to attend professional development, will your students be able to sustain the culture while you’re gone? Leave a plan in place for the substitute, and explain what the learning culture should look like, even to an outsider.
Once the workflow is in place, and the routines have become seamless, you are on your way. You and your students will travel an amazing path toward creating a sustainable classroom culture of learning.