Creating an Encouraging Learning Environment with Classroom Culture

By: Audrey Bogert 

It can be very difficult for students to retain and learn information when they are averse to a classroom setting. These students lack motivation in an environment that requires the student to strive for success. A recent Education Week article provided the answer for those students who are unresponsive in a formal educational setting suggesting that the problem and solution may lie in classroom culture.

Education Week asked experts such as Margaret A. Seale and Maurice J. Elias “How do you create a school culture or even classroom culture in which students strive for success and are expected to strive for success?” Their answers fell into four categories:

  1. Include students in the creation of the classroom culture
  2. Celebrate successes
  3.  Lead by example 
  4.  Stay away from harsh punishments

Heather Wolpert-Gawron suggested creating a classroom constitution on the first day of class as well as having the students make “collaboration constitutions” to design healthy inter-student relationships. Along with this strategy, when praise of healthy student and teacher habits is utilized by both teachers and students it shows what is expected in order to achieve success.

In addition, Seale said she engages individual students by figuring out what hinders their motivation and working with them without using harsh punishments that add stress to the entire classroom.

For classroom cultures that have already been established but need change, Elias mapped out a step-by-step process to gradually change a school’s culture. Estimating that schools may need at least 2 years for permanent change, Elias described a concept of constant assessment and prioritization of challenges in order to instill an encouraging classroom culture.