For Teachers

Creating a Classroom Atmosphere for Better Student Engagement

By The Room 241 Team October 30, 2012

What is the best way to boost student engagement in the classroom? While some studies have shown that a classroom with more student engagement  can be more productive, it doesn’t eliminate the need for teachers to spend time with individual students who need extra help. In short, teachers need to find ways to engage all their students.

Most teachers already know that they must direct and guide the classroom with a positive learning environment. But the methods that they should use are not always clearly defined.

Classroom management vs. learning communities

Learning often falls into two broad categories: instruction and classroom management. The term “classroom management” refers to the structure and control of the classroom. It is rooted in an industrial model of education consisting of rigid schedules with classroom bells and large class sizes. Some school leaders and advocates now wonder if this is the best approach. In recent years the “classroom management” term has been dropped in some educational circles in favor of a term that’s thought to suggest a more positive relationship with students–a learning community.

What are some of the differences between a learning community and classroom management?

  • Classroom management: Are rules mandated or negotiated?
  • Power: Should power be unquestioned or given with respect?
  • Effectiveness: Is an effective classroom passive and quiet or lively and with student engagement?
  • Classroom control: Should the teacher provide feedback when it is punitive in nature or positive reinforcement?
  • Teacher’s role: Should the teacher demand absolute attention or be a source of encouragement?
A brief look at the differences between classroom management and learning communities can make things more clear. Could it be a matter of nurturing relationships over institutionalization and indoctrination of our students? Teachers must create a learning climate that exhibits respect to the student with high-quality personal relationships with both adults and peers.

Creating a learning environment

While it’s important to study and continue education in regards to student engagement, students should lead the way in the strategies teachers use. Students often share what they like about learning, but teachers, administration, and college professors don’t always hear it.
The growth of our students requires their ability to interact with others in the classroom. Talking should be encouraged. But for some students, one-on-one personal interactions are not easy because they have been heavily influenced by personal technology.  Teachers should acknowledge those students’ interests in technology and encourage them to share it by interacting with other students.
Also, students often wonder how school lessons are relevant to real life. If a teacher can apply the lesson to a function outside of the classroom such as a career, student engagement increases.
The classroom environment should also be comfortable on a physical level. Adjust the room temperature so students can concentrate. Lighting should not be intrusive. Make the classroom inviting. As student comfort increases, so does learning.
As the need to increase student engagement is addressed, teachers are challenged to define what student engagement means to their students. Today, no clear set standards or rules are provided on this subject, but teachers and students intuitively know what it feels like to be in a classroom that connects. Listen to your students and follow your instincts and you will create an engaging learning environment where students can thrive.

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