4 Essential Concepts to Ensure an Amazing Classroom Learning Environment

There are lots of times throughout my career that I have thought, “If I only knew then what I know now.” Those thoughts are most prevalent when I think back to the learning classroom environment I created. In a nutshell, I was pretty clueless. I was very focused, and the learning climate was something I rarely considered. Much of what I’ve learned is that effective classroom management is the foundation of developing a positive learning environment. However, classroom management seems to get lots of attention. For this blog, I’m going to share some ideas that may be overlooked but are essential for creating a learning climate where students want to be.

1. Provide Structure

Students want to know what to expect. It is comforting. If they come to class and some days they sit in lines, some days they are greeted at the door, and some days they wait in line, it can get unsettling. Create routines. We use a four-part lesson in dynamicpeasap.com, partially to ensure structure in lessons. Structure can also be provided by establishing rules, consequences, procedures for students who arrive late, etc.

2. Provide Specific Positive Feedback

The feedback provided by the teacher can go a long way in creating a positive classroom environment. Positive feedback is always great. But even better is specific positive feedback. “Wow, Enrique just froze so fast. That makes my heart smile.” is much more powerful than “Good freeze.” Corrective feedback for skills, provided privately so only the student can hear, works to maintain the positive climate we work so hard to create. Publicly saying, “Jason, your elbow is too low” could potentially embarrass a student who is working to improve their skills.

3. Addressing Behavior Issues

Inevitably, teachers will have to address behavior issues. Similar to the skill feedback discussed above, addressing behavior issues privately preserves the student’s dignity and eliminates the chance of embarrassing them. If a child is off task, simply get the entire class engaged in an activity, quickly move to the student and state, “Paul, talking while I am giving instructions is unacceptable. That is a warning.” Then proceed with class as normal. As adults we would always prefer being reprimanded by a boss in private, let’s extend that same courtesy to students.

4. Model appropriate behavior

This may be the most powerful action a teacher can take, and we often forget about it. Or at least I do. Be happy. I have said it in other blogs, smile a lot. It shows students that you love your job. If you want to see how much you smile, video yourself. Would you know that the teacher in the video LOVES his/her job? Do you love your career choice? Let your face show it. Be so happy people will think you are up to something. It’s fun that way. Own your mistakes with students. When instructions don’t go as you plan (and they will), stop the class and say, “Boy I messed that up huh? Let’s try again.” This humanizes you and shows the students that it’s okay to make mistakes. Just remember the grace they give you the next time they are a bit rowdy the day before Halloween or when it’s rainy outside.

Recommended Blogs:
Class Management: Tips from the Trenches by Mike Graham
5 Tips for Effective P.E. Class Management by Peter Boucher by Peter Boucher
3 Attention Grabbers for Effective Classroom Management! by Scott McDowell

These are just a few ways to create a learning environment where students are excited to come to class and engage in physical activity. Give them a shot and let us know your ideas. tHRIVE.

Aaron is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky. He is a trainer for physical education faculty, after-school staff, early child care staff and youth sport coaches and has co-authored several national documents including CDC's Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool and NASPE's Comprehensive School Physical Activity Promotion: A Position Statement. Beighle is the co-author of four books; Promoting Physical Activity and Health in the Classroom, Pedometer Power, Pedometer Power 2nd ed., Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children. He's also served on the National Physical Activity Plan Education Sector Committee and the NASPE Task Force.

Aaron is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky. He is a trainer for physical education faculty, after-school staff, early child care staff and youth sport coaches and has co-authored several national documents including CDC's Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool and NASPE's Comprehensive School Physical Activity Promotion: A Position Statement. Beighle is the co-author of four books; Promoting Physical Activity and Health in the Classroom, Pedometer Power, Pedometer Power 2nd ed., Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children. He's also served on the National Physical Activity Plan Education Sector Committee and the NASPE Task Force.

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