Needs Focused Teaching

8 Novel Ways to Create A Positive Classroom Environment


When we think of classroom management we tend to concentrate on the negative aspects of student behaviour – on finding more and more ways to deal with time-consuming and frustrating inappropriate behaviours such as talking out of turn, arguing, not working etc. and this can, over time, create a very depressing, discouraging environment. If you watch the best teachers, those who have the best relationships with students and get the best results from them, you’ll notice they don’t do this. Instead, they focus on good behaviour; they make a point of acknowledging good behaviours in the hope they will be repeated. The following ideas will help you encourage students to behave appropriately by ‘marking the moment’ whenever they do something right and by creating a more positive, welcoming classroom environment…

1. Call home more regularly

Successful teachers NEVER take good behaviour for granted. Every time a troubled and troublesome student makes positive progress they make a point of getting in touch with parents/carers – either by telephone or written note – and telling them exactly what their child did to have a GREAT day. Sadly, some students receive no end of calls home when they misbehavebut none when they make the effort to improve. Even a thirty-second call can start to reverse the negative feelings many parents have towards school and can do wonders to build your relationship with a challenging student. Surprisingly, when we have surveyed young people, the reward they tell us they most want, more than anything else, is a positive ‘phone call or letter home – and that includes the students who seem to have very little support at home. Please use this strategy if you’re not already doing so – it can make a HUGE (and immediate) difference.

2. The victory dance

Explain to your students you’re going to give them 5 minutes to develop their own, personalised ten second Victory Dance. Then, whenever you want to offer special praise to a student for excellent work or brilliant behaviour, clear a space at the front of the room (or install a podium if you have spare budget) and allow them their ten seconds of fame.

3. Wiggly Wooos

Here’s a fun group response for good effort to encourage class camaraderie. Every time you say “That deserves a Wiggly Wooo”, students wave their fingers in the direction of the student in question and call “wooooo!” in unison.

4. Silent Cheers.

Teach students to reward fellow class-members for good work and good behaviour with a silent cheer. Offer spot prizes for the most dramatic and convincing exhibition of silent applause.

5. And the winner is…

Throughout the week, be on the lookout for students doing good work, good deeds, improved effort etc. Every time you see something positive scribble the student’s name down on a piece of paper, together with a very brief reminder of their behaviour, and place it in a jar. At the end of the week, draw a few names from the jar and hand out spot prizes (or simply encourage group applause) for the winners.

6. Teach the behaviour you want to see with ROUTINES

Have routines in place which teach and remind students exactly how to behave during transitions and other ‘hot spots’ of the lesson such as start of lesson, end of lesson, clearing up, toilet breaks, handing in work etc. Routines should be taught, practiced and then typed up and put on display in the classroom.

Firmly established routines give you the perfect, non-confrontational response when a student isn’t doing what they should be doing… “What should be doing right now?” … and also eliminate the classic student response – “I don’t know” – all you have to do is point at the routine on the wall.

7. Use incidents and problems as teachable moments.

Rather than just complaining when a student does something wrong, help them to learn from their experiences and mistakes by having them fill in a ‘Reflection Sheet’ stating a) What they did wrong, b) why they did it, c) Why they shouldn’t have done it d) what they will do instead next time.

8. Compliment Chain

The Compliment Chain is simply a sequence of paper links hanging down from the ceiling. Whenever a member of the class receives a compliment from another teacher (for good behaviour, good work etc. a link is added to the chain. When the chain reaches the floor you can reward the students with a class surprise of some sort.

If you enjoyed these ideas you’ll love the collection of starter activities, energisers, classroom games and fun actitivies I’ve put together for you. It’s available free for a limited time…

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Guido Schmid says 26th February 2016

I’d like more classroom management tips please’ comment in the box below.

Donna Z says 23rd February 2016

Great tips Rob…..any tips for supply teachers and behaviour management? Cheers Donna Z 🙂

    rob says 23rd February 2016

    They’ll be coming soon Donna. Just got to get the book launch organised and then assess priorities from there. x

Bisola Toriola says 10th April 2014

These are interesting tips that will be quite useful. I will try them out . Thanks, Bisola Toriola.

Mary says 10th March 2014

Lovely ideas. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Couch Houchin-LaMontia says 9th March 2014

Like Kathy, I work with small groups (10 or less), and have found a strategy that has had positive results with my K – 4th graders. When a reader comes to a challenging word, in read alouds, the rest of the group cannot tell the reader the word, however, they can give clues. The kids love being the teacher, the reader feels pride with being able to pronounce the word on their own, and I not only see what strategies they are using, but learn a few interesting ones myself. While it raises the humor factor and lowers stress, This also reduces blurting out, establishes teamwork, and greatly raises productivity.

chris A says 5th March 2014

Great ideas, thanks Rob.
Can I ask though, with the compliment chain is it advisable to remove links if basd behaviour is observed or is that too negative? What’s others trhoughts on this? Mine, is that this would help the class take ownership of their behaviour.

Odette says 4th March 2014

Some very good ideas here. Thanks!

Karen says 4th March 2014

Hi Rob, thanks for these suggestions, they sound great!

Deb says 3rd March 2014

Some great tips! thanks.

FiF says 3rd March 2014

Great ideas! I’d like more classroom management tips please – especially some for younger children whose ability to read/write means that ideas such as the Reflection Sheet or routines published on the wall are not viable.

Kathy P-W says 3rd March 2014

These are nice. I teach small groups for 30 minutes at a time and am always looking for smaller management tricks, as I don’t have the entire day to observe and reward. Any ideas?

Caroline Mohamed says 3rd March 2014

Hi Rob. Excellent tips. More classroom management tips will be highly appreciated.

Michelle B says 3rd March 2014

I’d like moer classroom management tips, please!

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