How to set up a positive, loving environment for your students

As teachers, it should always be our goal to set up as much of a loving environment for our students as possible. A warm learning environment enables students to feel comfortable, and when they feel comfortable, they are more willing to engage and learn.

Unfortunately, this can be difficult due to pressure from the higher-ups, parents, time constraints and certain students’ behaviours.

Nevertheless, it is a goal that teachers should strive towards, and here are some suggestions on how we can do that.

A Quick Summary:

  • It is important to have your students know you as well as know them.
  • Celebrating students’ achievements can make them feel validated and boost their self-esteem.
  • Greeting students regularly can be a good bookend to the class and make them feel nice.
  • Joking around helps everyone feel relaxed and comfortable.
  • It is vital to have fun in class once in a while.
  • Do not judge students. Instead, ask them questions and listen to them.

Knowing

When I was a primary or secondary school student, I would notice that the teachers would always give a brief introduction of themselves in their class’s first lesson. Then, they would make us each stand up and give a brief introduction of ourselves turn by turn. I guess I always knew what the teachers were trying to do, but now I think I understand it.

Giving some personal information about yourself goes a long way in getting students to trust you. It humanizes you to your students, and it shows them that you are not an actual person with likes, dislikes, and interests and that you are not just this authoritative figure that they need to obey.

Having students think of you as a sort of ‘friend’ also allows them to be more relaxed, more open about their thoughts and more comfortable asking questions. In the end, showing a bit of your vulnerable side does wonders in getting students to trust you.

This process goes both ways, in any case. It is not just about students knowing more about you but also you knowing more about them. When you ask and remember something about your students, you show them that you care and that they matter to you. Again, this can mean a lot to students and plays a big part in setting up a loving environment.

Celebrating

It feels pretty important to students, and just people, in general, to be honest, to feel validated by the people they look up to.

Students want to feel that their success means something to others, so when they accomplish something, it is quite important to celebrate them.

It does not have to be a significant party and taking students out to restaurants or anything. It can be something as simple as playing games, watching videos, and treating them for snacks and drinks.

This allows students to feel relaxed and validated and ensures that students enjoy their classmates’ successes. Honestly, this is an important piece of advice, not just for teachers but also for parents. Celebrations matter a lot to children and students, and they deserve them.

Greeting

Greeting is another thing that does not take much effort or resources to do but can compound up to make a major difference in students. Giving each student an individual hello and goodbye can show them that you care about them.

It also shows them that what happens inside class during the class period remains in there. It shows them that just because they performed poorly in class on a few occasions does not mean that you will mistreat them or dislike them.

That can be a big deal to students. Also, adding a high-five or fist bump to that can take it to another level if your students are okay with it.

Joking

Laughter is the best medicine there is. It helps in breaking the ice, and it helps in making your students feel comfortable. Whatever idealistic classroom full of students we may want, the reality is that our class will be full of students of various types.

Some of them can be unapologetically talkative or extremely shy. In most cases, having a few jokes here and there does wonders in making students feel comfortable and relaxed around you.

Thinking back to my days as a student, those kinds of teachers were always fun, and their environment always felt very nice.

Relaxing

This might seem similar to celebrating, but while that one had a purpose, this is spontaneous. Something that teachers often forget is that students can be pretty busy and stressed as well.

It seems like nothing to adults who know of what other difficulties lie ahead. However, from a student’s perspective, it can be stressful. A moment of stress relief once a while can make a huge difference in a student’s life and mental health. It could be a quick game every other class or movie lesson once a month.

Judging

Contrary to the other suggestions before of what to do, this is a suggestion of what not to do.

This is a mistake that is very easy to make for most teachers. From an adult’s point of view, there are many mistakes that students may make, which seem stupid. It is also straightforward to call a student lazy when they have not done anything. I suppose it is not entirely false, but it is useless and worse – it is harmful.

Judging and labelling students with these negative connotations will only make them feel less comfortable and open.

Instead, it is vital to try to be understanding. It is vital to ask them why they could not submit their work, why they performed poorly, or why they behaved poorly. If you have made mistakes, explain to them why you are disappointed and understand that you expect more because you know they are capable of more.

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This article was published on May 3, 2021.

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