The research about how important it is to develop our students’ social and emotional learning is growing everyday. How our students feel in the classroom is a big contributor to their success.
We know that when students feel secure and valued:
They form a deeper connection with you as their teacher / trusted adult
They are more likely to be ready and open to learning
Less conflict occurs in the classroom
As educators, lots of factors come into play to help create an environment where our students feel valued.
In this post, we have focused on 8 things you can do as the teacher that will make a difference. Every suggestion is something that is teacher led and can be implemented with little to no preparation.
1. Greet them in the morning.
This doesn’t mean you have to be standing by the door the whole time. If students all come in at the same time, this can be done easily. Make eye contact, smile or do a ‘special greeting’.
If students trickle in, like at my schools, I would greet those who were at the doors and ask them about their evening or weekend. Students would then start on their morning work, I’d perhaps quickly prep my first couple of lessons of the morning, but would make sure to stop and greet the students who come up and say good morning whilst I’m prepping. I always stop 5 minutes before class starts to go around and welcome anyone who came in quietly and check in with them as well.
2. Ask questions about them
This follows on nicely from greeting them in the morning, since this is when I like to ask specific questions based on what I know about the students.
How was your little sister’s birthday?
Did basketball training go well?
I saw you at band practise yesterday… tell me how it went?
I also find during small group work is a nice time to ask questions, especially during reading - so many opportunities to link connection with self by asking them questions.
Also during lessons like HASS or Art when there are moments where you feel like you’re not racing against the clock are ideal times to connect and ask your students questions.
3. Notice students strengths
Take the opportunity to recognise students strengths. It’s a great way to build morale in the classroom. It doesn’t always have to be public declarations but a quiet word when a student is learning will go a long way.
It could be as easy as saying ‘I love how organised you are today’ or ‘You spoke so confidently about the different types of habitats. I can see you did a lot of research on the topic.’
Random messages of praise on pencils, in student workbooks or on sticky notes placed on students desks are also a lovely keepsake that students can share with loved ones at home.
Once you start a culture of noticing strengths, you will find that your students will start doing the same with each other.
4. Showcasing learning
This could be done with a wow wall in the class, or having a wall designated to students sharing work they are proud of.
It could also be a student sharing their learning with another student, class or teacher they admire.
One of my favourite and more consistent ways was sharing learning with parents or caregivers. It could be taking a photo and emailing it to parents, using an app such as seesaw or class dojo or a quick note in students' diaries or bags.
5. Individual class role
This is where we like to have a PA of the day. It means for the day that person helps the teacher with anything. Like wiping down the whiteboard, changing the date or running errands (it also saves the need for having an elaborate class job system).
My class always go mad for wiping down the whiteboard (and it was a job that needed to be done each day). Find something that helps you and that students love to do and there is your winning combo for them feeling valued!
6. Individual class role
Share some positivity with them about you and why you love your job. You could create a generic list for the whole class, a few generic ideas plus some personalised ones, or a personalised list for everyone if you have a little more time on your hands. All options are going to make an impact.
Side note: We just discovered magnetic tape from Kmart. Add that to the back of your cards so your students can take them home and place them up on their fridge.
Grab your free 10 Reasons Why I Love Being Your Teacher template here.
7. Dedicate a lesson to celebrate each other
Teach your students the art of giving compliments and make something beautiful to display in your classroom, like these compliment jars.
"We coloured the jars and then added the compliments, they look fantastic on the wall. I linked it in a way that supports positive relationships within the classroom. Students were then able to identify different qualities and then wrote meaningful compliments." Lisa E
8. Create a class tradition
A weekly tradition is something that will set you apart from other teachers and classroom. Some examples include:
Mindful Monday where you take time out to unwind at the end of the day.
Reading a class novel or audio book (just for fun) after lunch, or at the end of the day.
A weekly general knowledge quiz (my year 4s loved this) allows time to have fun, unwind & build camaraderie.
We hope these suggestions help you and your students, we would love to hear from you if you had success!