Wednesday 3rd, Jul 2019 (Published on Tuesday 3rd, Apr 2018)

Creating an open and accepting elementary education environment

Creating an engaging atmosphere where students feel confident in asking questions and expressing their thoughts and feelings is more conducive to learning, retaining information and academic success in the long run.

Open Learning Environment

The type of education environment that a teacher creates in the classroom is one that will either enhance or damage a student’s ability to learn. An uncomfortable, sterile space where students are neither stimulated nor have room to explore and engage with their learning subject will decrease a student's ability to learn, but on the other hand the prospect of a welcoming, warm and stimulating environment is one that will make students look forward to coming to class. Educational research to date suggests that creating an engaging atmosphere where students feel confident in asking questions and expressing their thoughts and feelings is more conducive to learning, retaining information and academic success in the long run. Whether one is fostering a future professor or a company formation agent, good education is crucial to all. 

But how can parents, consumer in the new-age marketplace that is the education realm, identify what a healthy, accepting elementary learning environment actually looks like? And how can teachers create such a learning environment?

Key areas to consider when creating an atmosphere of openness, acceptance and mutual respect in elementary school are classroom design, classroom procedures and classroom strategies. Having active family engagement with the class, a climate of high expectations (while reasonable), strong social and emotional student growth and robust teacher support are some markers that indicate a healthy and inclusive learning environment within a classroom. But how does one get there? 

Firstly, you must physically create a warm, welcoming and inclusive space in the classroom. This seems simple enough, but it’s not as simple as comparing insurance brokers with BrokerLink. There are so many mistakes teachers commonly make when setting up a room – simply because they aren’t looking at the environment from a child’s perspective. Make sure that supplies and other necessities, such as tissues, are put at the students’ level so they are easily accessible. It’s not only empowering for your students but also more efficient for you as a teacher. Lighting has the ability make a room feel either sterile and alien, or warm and welcoming. Try to ensure your classroom has ‘warm’ or yellow lightbulbs installed, and also add in some table or floor lamps so that all the fluorescent light is not just directed straight down onto the students.  

In order to promote a spirit of encouragement, appreciation and mutual support of one another, post students’ work on the walls regularly.

When posters, poems, projects, drawings or even research papers dominate the walls, there is student ownership of the classroom. It also shows that you as a teacher respect and admire hard work and are willing to reward students for it.

In terms of classroom procedures, one brilliant way to create a welcoming atmosphere is to instill special traditions into class time. For example, lighting a candle during reading time or starting the day with a friendly conversation between neighboring pupils will make students feel a sense of regularity, security and comfort in the classroom. We all love traditions and habits, right? Well, children are no different. Innovation and change are wonderful, but they must be accompanied by habitual practices.

Educators today use technology to varying degrees in the classroom, from online courses to finding resume templates, or even sites for trading Forex and CFD in economics courses and free writing tools. But perhaps the most important approach to creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and openness is by modelling self-advocacy, kindness and vulnerability wherever possible. If you are asking your students to act kindly, practice self-determination, or talk when they are struggling or scared, you need to be prepared to do the same. In every instance possible, you must make students aware of your expectations. Be it through showing them informative, colorful posters; short improvised plays; singing songs; reading books; or simply through talking, you should be guiding your students towards displaying more accepting behavior of others by leading through example. Perhaps most importantly, supportive teachers need to be placing trust in their students in order for it to be mutual. Let your students make decisions – from classroom layout to project ideas. 

The same goes for learning habits. Teachers cannot expect their students to learn positive learning behaviors if their environment is didactic and observational. Instead, demonstrate curiosity, creativity, collaboration, persistence, and flexibility wherever possible. 

Now, I’m aware that educators today use technology to varying degrees in the classroomfrom online courses such as CSM training or even sites for trading Forex and CFD in economics courses. However, many are dubious of the long-term impact educational technologies might have on students and others responsible for directing vast amounts of web traffic to such sites on a daily basis. What is the healthy medium? Simply, to trust that digitalizing your classroom will make it a more interactive, familiar place for your students. They have been raised as millennials – and their future is one in which technology will play a big part. So, it makes sense to embrace technology and its benefits in the classroom. Producing a regular class blog is one way of enhancing the sense of class community, and it continues to engage students even when they aren’t inside the classroom. Similarly, creating a digital newsletter for parents will also help to forge a stronger community and will make students feel a sense of pride and achievement, should they be featured in the newsletter.

Lastly, it is beyond important to promote respect for cultural diversity in the classroom in order for it to be a truly accepting environment for all students. Using a culturally-centered instructional approach can help promote cultural pride among diverse students – and it will also teach students to respect and appreciate their own culture.

This article was authored by Anton Lucanus. You can contact him via email here.