Student-Teacher Relationships: Classroom Culture (Promoting Excellence for All)

[ Music ] It’s a major piece for kids to have a
safe and predictable environment. If we create that culture
where they know that we love them, and we know that we believe in them,
that’s, like, vital to the — closing the
achievement gap. The first thing that I do every year is
we start by kind of creating that family atmosphere within our —
within my classroom. And by doing that,
we do family greetings. So the kids actually interview each other,
asking, like, what’s your favorite color, what is your favorite game to play,
how many siblings do you have, with really
simple questions. So they kind of can create that
common ground between the two of them. And then always have to
kind of point out the commonalities. Like, what did we
have in common? What things were the
same between the two of us? So they get to interview
everyone in the classroom throughout the
first month of school. And I think that kind of just starts by
creating that sense of family, that classroom culture
that we’re really looking for. I want the kids to know
that it’s a fresh new start. So every morning, I greet them with
a handshake in the doorway — with a handshake,
eye contact, a smile. And we practice that a lot
at the beginning of the school year. And they know to respond to me
with a handshake, eye contact, and a smile
and a greeting as well. And it’s kind of letting them know
that whatever happened earlier in the morning, you can forget,
and this is a fresh start. You’re safe in this classroom. We’re a family in here.
We’re going to take care of each other. And it’s kind of that
fresh start for the day. It’s great to have within classrooms —
the classroom culture piece and having that family, but it’s even more
effective if you have it as a whole school. So really implementing it
in every classroom, making sure every classroom is feeling
safe, making sure, as a whole school, you know, you’re able to go up to students
and talk with them and interact with them, and they feel that safe environment
wherever they are in the school, not just within
your own classroom. My first teaching job in an urban setting,
I could feel that the love that they had for me when I was giving the —
you know, the consistent expectations and providing that safe environment,
and I just saw them flourish so much. In the beginning of the year, there is,
you know, a lot — maybe kids are acting out or struggling or kind of
trying to figure out where they belong. But because we create
that classroom culture, and they know that
we’re all a family, you kind of see, day to day,
that behavior dwindle away. We’ve seen it in our test scores —
our growth. Every classroom in our school
has that classroom culture piece where we really made it
a family atmosphere — a safe, predictable
family atmosphere. I think because they know
it is safe and predictable, all of their focus
is on their academics. [ Music ]

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