A look at the importance of getting the class atmosphere right…

Through reading Hattie’s book Visible Learning for Teachers, one theme runs throughout the book – the importance of getting the classroom atmosphere ‘right’.

Within the book, Hattie suggests 43 key approaches to implement findings from his first book Visible Learning. The 43 key approaches are grouped in to:

  • Inspired and passionate teaching (1 to 5)
  • Planning (6 to 11)
  • Starting the lesson (12 to 23)
  • During the lesson: learning (24 to 32)
  • During the lesson: feedback (33 to 38)
  • The end of the lesson (39 to 42)
  • Mindframes (43)

These posts will cover all 43 approaches. Look for the tags on the right ‘Hattie’ ‘Starting the lesson’

12 – The climate of the class, as seen by students, is fair

In any class that you teach, it is important that students feel ok to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I need help’. For this to take place, there needs to be a high level of trust between the teacher and the student. However, such trust cannot be gained in a single session or during a five minute discussion. Moreover, trust is developed over time and is quicker to lose than to gain.

Within a classroom where there is a high level of trust:

  • Students believe that they are listened to
  • Students know that the purpose of the class is to make progress and learn
  • Students know that, if they make a mistake or an error, they will not be judged
  • All students are willing to participate and share thoughts
  • A positive, caring, respectful climate exists
  • There is a sense of safety to learn
  • Sense of respect and fairness exists

How to develop trust within a classroom:

  • Set the rules of the classroom out at the beginning of the year,
  • Remind students of this on a unit by unit basis
  • On occasions, aspects of the rules will need reminding at the beginning of each lesson
  • Tell students if they are going off task and how they are going off task
  • Teachers need to be aware of the learning and atmosphere in their class, both on a class by class and a lesson by lesson basis
  • Students must be taught how to work in groups, not simply put in them

Relationship between teacher and student

  • The relationship between the teacher and the student is key with care, trust, cooperation, respect and team skills all present.

At the beginning of the lesson:

  • Teachers must be clear about the purpose of the lesson
  • Students must know what they will be learning in the lesson
  • Students must know how their learning in the lesson. What indicates successful learning?
  • Plan for flexibility in the lesson. Consider carefully the use of rigid lesson plans as learning is very much a staccato process. That is, a process full of errors
  • Be willing to change approach if things are not working out – look and listen to the vibe of the classroom and make sure that they are learning your lesson intentions

What are your thoughts? What do you do to make the climate of your class fair?

Image taken from Flickr