When structuring one’s classroom, one should strive to create a community. A community is a place for students to feel cared for, supported, and encouraged. It’s a place where each student is valued and respected as an important individual and a place where each person learns to appreciate the differences of others. Students who learn within positive classroom communities think as a collective group and constantly work together to achieve common goals. In this effective environment, students come together as a group, a team, and even a family. Community means understanding and creates an atmosphere in which students can work, live, and learn together.
I believe that instructors should always maintain a student-centered focus whilst creating a supportive classroom community. According to Alfie Kohn, a former teacher and current full-time writer and lecturer known as one of the most original thinkers in education, classroom management should focus on three main concepts. The instructor should:
- Build cooperative relationships that enable students to feel incorporated
- Share responsibility with students in resolving classroom issues
- Promote questioning and decision making that encourages consideration for other viewpoints
By developing accommodating, affectionate classrooms, students will feel empowered when making judgments and expressing opinions. When they are given an active role in the management of the course, students will feel entitled with responsibility and will enjoy working with the instructor to find solutions to classroom problems. When working cooperatively and experiencing the views of others in the class, students will find inspiration to pursue in-depth topics and to question their own experiences, further promoting a love for learning and exploration. Students should no longer be viewed as mere participants that must be disciplined and controlled. They should be appreciated as cooperative partners in helping to create a positive classroom community.
In order to create thriving environments within their classrooms, instructors must focus on building lasting relationships with their students built on reliance and cooperation. A student will appreciate the teacher who knows his name and chats with him because of a genuine interest in learning about his life. Students will trust in those that respect them and notice them as individuals. An instructor should aim to understand each of his students on a personal level and to assist each student in an appropriate manner. When a friendly, yet assertive, relationship has been established, students will react positively towards the instructor and will eagerly cooperate, compromising when issues arise. Classrooms are easier to manage when they comprise of understanding partnerships in which both, the teacher and the student, equally invest in creating solutions. When instructors keep a student-centered mindset and focus on developing individualized, positive relationships within their classroom communities, students will respond with enthusiasm and appreciation as they benefit from mentor trust and support. All students crave acceptance and understanding, especially from relevant figures in their lives. Building a foundation of recognition with students will further cultivate an effective community and an encouraging atmosphere. When students feel noticed, they flourish.
Not only should an instructor strive to create meaningful relationships with each of his students, but he should also guide his students in learning behaviors that will lead them to succeed in their further endeavors. Keeping his long-term goals for the course in mind, an instructor can allow students freedom to cooperate in structuring an environment in which they will attain much success. Compliance should never be demanded simply for classroom management sake. Instead, instructors should constantly question a rule’s purpose and frequently ask, “How can my students be involved?” When students are trusted and allowed initiative, they develop self-control and responsibility and work together to build a strong democratic, community.
When aiming to construct an accepting classroom community, the instructor should also focus his curriculum on the students. Involve students when writing the curriculum by allowing them to express their curiosities. Find what will motivate and encourage the students to learn. Discover what the students want to study and ask them to suggest concepts that could be explored. The curriculum should contain necessary, required material while allowing students to follow their own questions. Promote higher-order thinking, problem-solving, questioning, decision making, comparing and contrasting, and judging to teach students to find connections using a variety of methods. When an engaging curriculum is based on student needs, the community feels validated and accredited. Pupils taught from a student-led curriculum develop self-direction, responsibility, and independence and enjoy researching in-depth topics. They find relevance within their schoolwork and enthuse about the course, promoting the exploration of ideas, the search for new solutions, and the synthesis of new meanings and connections. When the student is enabled to choose what he would like to study and how he would prefer to study it, school no longer imprisons him, but allows him to free his mind. With student-focused curriculums, school becomes an exciting pursuit of knowledge.
While students are given the chance to pursue their interests, they should also participate in group learning to expose them to the views of others. Gentle disagreement and arguing should be encouraged in the classroom as it allows students the chance to witness clashing viewpoints and to broaden their own ideas. Group discussion and cooperation helps build a critical mind, healthy skepticism, a need for evidence, and a willingness and openness to consider other vantage points. This advocates students to find relations and connections that they may not have otherwise found. When debate and discussion allows students to delve into each other’s minds, the classroom becomes a center of knowledge and insight and an opportunity for all students to aid each other in their educational journeys.
In my classroom, I will aspire to create a welcoming community, in which students feel cared for, supported, and encouraged. I will follow Alfie Kohn’s suggestions for classroom management by focusing on building cooperative relationships that enable students to feel incorporated, sharing responsibility with students in resolving classroom issues, and promoting questioning and decision making that encourages consideration for other viewpoints. I will strive to develop a supportive environment, a collaborative team, and a loving family. My classroom will not consist of separated students each hoping to pass the course, but of diverse companions working collectively to attain success throughout their educational expedition.