Professional Standard Seven – create and maintain safe and supportive learning environments
Standard Seven requires teachers to develop a positive classroom climate that provides students with the security and motivation to achieve their full potential. Teachers set clear expectations for student learning and behaviour and promote respectful, positive and supportive behaviour among students. Teachers aim for all students to participate in learning activities and feel safe in learning environment.
Establishing a warm classroom climate
My primary intention is to create a learning environment in which students feel safe enough to take intellectual risks. A classroom climate that is characterised by positive communication, warmth and support is one that is likely to produce productive and enjoyable work (Charles, 2004). I take the time to establish rapport with and among my students at the beginning of the year through activities such as ‘Guess Who’. Students each submit a ‘Guess Who’ card to me which I use to obtain some background information about the interests and backgrounds of my students. I then select one or two cards at random at the end of lessons and get students to ‘Guess Who’ wrote the card. One strategy I use to convey warmth to my students is the ‘meet and greet’ at the beginning of lessons. As my students enter the classroom, I stand at the door and greet each student with a smile and a friendly remark. Students sometimes find this unusual at first but it generally only takes a few lessons and before I am being greeted with smiles each day.
Reflective activities: KWL and Peer Feedback
These reflective activities clearly reflect the practice, knowledge and values of standard seven because they allow students to participate in the establishment of a supportive classroom climate. The KWL strategy enables me to activate students’ prior knowledge about a new topic and provide clear expectations for student learning. The students then reflect on their knowledge at the end of the unit of work. This strategy is motivating to students because it enables them to participate fully in the construction of learning goals. The peer feedback strategy enables students to explore the learning goals in depth and reflect on their own progress towards these learning goals. The benefit of using a peer feedback system is that students have the opportunity to work both collaboratively and independently in a supportive environment.