The Five Ws (and one H) to Cultivating a Positive Classroom Environment – What


Educational experiences are diverse among our world population. The definition of “school” is in the eye of the beholder; it can differ depending on the individual who is defining it. The environment I visualize when I think of school may be an entirely different picture than a child in a foreign country or in a varying socioeconomic status may connect to. But the most tragic educational commonality is the fact that we all have a horror story.

Literature, movies, television, online posts, and personal anecdotes shared through conversation are all forums that people have expressed school related nightmares, where the environment was detrimental in numerous ways. While school is supposed to be a safe place for young people to learn, grow, and have fun, it is often portrayed as quite the opposite.

As I immerse myself into my field placement and try to soak in as much information about early childhood education as I can, I plan to keep this idea of positive classroom environments on the forefront. Through a series of blogs, I will explore the what, who, where, when, why and how regarding the cultivation of a positive classroom environment. By exploring the depths of what makes school so great, we will come closer to the cure for the educational nightmare that students, parents, and even some future teachers fear.

This brings me to the question of what does it truly mean to have a positive classroom environment? I believe that society throws around the word “positivity” in contexts such as “be positive” or “stay positive” way too often without enough action behind it. We instruct people to be or stay positive without even knowing what it means to live that word. We can say that a positive classroom environment is the most ideal but how do we strive for that without fully knowing what it even is?

The observations I have been making in my field placement have encouraged me to question the impact that the environment has on some of the behaviors. I have observed the children’s behavior and have noticed that there is often a fair amount of crying, misbehavior, and chaos regarding the daily routines. Initially I assumed that these behaviors were developmentally appropriate. However, it is not as typical for a three-year-old to continue having frequent tantrums. Although the tantrums and misdemeanors could have some correlation to an underlying behavioral issue, I wonder what the class would look like if the classroom environment was more positive. What would some of the differences be if there were positive changes made to the current classroom climate?

I read an article that discussed ways to provide a positive learning environment for a foster child, which is oftentimes a more difficult process than for a child in an average home. Even though it mentioned this particular population of children, the methods are applicable to all types of kids. The articles talks a lot about building a positive, supportive, caring relationship with the teacher. This bond often lends itself to creating a positive classroom environment since the teacher is the core of the classroom. In order to create a positive environment we must use positivity in our daily language. Build kids up as opposed to tearing them down. The teachers in my field placement could make more of an effort to acknowledge good behaviors, rather than serving as a constant corrector. It is so important for me to practice this with the children and see how it impacts their behavior and the overall feel of the environment. What do you think are some of the factors that define a positive classroom environment?