Building Positive Classroom Culture

(From the beginning of the year, to the end)

The title of this post, along with the above parenthetical, was the title of my very first ever professional speaking session. Mid-March, I was granted the opportunity to present ideas and strategies for creating positive classroom culture at the California Association of Teachers of English. I was, back in October, amazed and ecstatic when my proposal was accepted for the conference, and then as the event neared I was pretty much convinced only 5 people would show up to my session and that they’d probably all politely walk out mid-talk. Having this sort of self-doubt is probably not healthy, but it did probably add to my being overwhelmingly happy with the 25 people that came to my session, did not leave, and even stayed to ask questions afterward. So neat. This event has further convinced me that teachers may be some of the best people in the world (not trying to flatter myself, just the other people I come into contact with all the time). Teachers have the ability to educate masses of smarmy, often careless, de-motivated minors, while keeping the unending optimism that something said, taught, facilitated, is having a positive and life-long affect on those scattered and confused young minds. I met dozens of teachers, sat in sessions with hundreds – all of whom traveled to attend a professional development conference for 2-4 days over a weekend, knowing full well that Monday morning would land them without a proper weekend, rest, or time to grade/lesson plan before jumping right back into the classroom. It was lovely.

My own session went surprisingly well and I only forgot one part of my plan – to hand back anonymous letters of encouragement to the teachers in attendance on their way out the door – I caught the last stragglers and handed them each an affirmation, but I do hope that the ones who left without one, still came away with ideas and encouragement.

For fun, I thought I would go ahead and link here the padlet pages included in the talk.

First – a padlet of resources and ideas:

Second – a wall of gratitude – feel free to add what you are grateful for – It’s actually lovely to see what other people are thankful for.

The specific prompt for this padlet was: Write 3 things that you are grateful for as an educator, about your profession – This could extend to any profession, but the purpose of this was to get teachers thinking about what they love about teaching, and them to challenge them to reflect on how and if their students and/or co-workers know that they are thankful for these things.  Do your students know what you love about teaching? If they do, they may have a little more understanding of you as an actual human being who has their best interest at heart. Do your co-workers know what you’re thankful for? Do you know what they’re thankful for? What would our school culture look like if we actually, vulnerably engaged in sharing, and listened with empathy to, what we’re thankful for, what we struggle with, what our goals and successes look like?

I love the variety of things that people shared, and the willingness with which they shared.  I loved the chance to share my ideas and short lesson plans that maybe someone else could find useful. And so, this final link will take you to the full slide show if you’re interested. Thought it better to share than hold on to. If you have any questions (because I did a whole lot more talking than is clear in the slides or in my notes), let me know. If you have any ideas to add to the resource board, or a classroom strategy that you employ in order to create a positive classroom culture, throw it my way!

Building Positive Classroom Culture – Slideshow :

Happy Easter, Happy Teaching, Happy Spring and people, we are almost to the Summer, hang in there!

ps. the sunsets in San Diego are gorgeous:

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