Strategies for Creating a Positive Learning Environment
Very early in the semester, students generally form an opinion about a course, the content, the teaching style, etc. The following strategies are provided to help your students develop a positive attitude about your class from day one.
- Greet students at the door when they enter the classroom, particularly the first few days of class.
- Take attendance on the first day by using a sign-in sheet and/or an icebreaker activity that requires introductions. This reinforces the importance of being in class. For ideas on icebreaker activities, see the CTE's Teaching Tip, Icebreaker Activities
- Learn your students'names as soon as possible to build rapport. For tips on learning students names, see the CTE's Teaching Tip, What's In a Name? Strategies for Remembering Students' Names
- Provide an informative and user-friendly syllabus. At the website referenced under #2 above, there is an icebreaker activity that helps students become familiar with the syllabus while getting to know one another.
- Consider having your students write out their expectations and/or goals for the course. In addition, have them include how they might achieve these expectations/goals. At the end of the semester, as a way of bringing closure, consider having your students review their goals and/or expectations to determine if they achieved them.
- Learn more about your students via a Bio Sheet. For more information on Bio Sheets, see the CTE's Teaching Tip, Learning about Your Students through Bio Sheets
- Develop a code of conduct or ground rules, preferably with your students. For ideas on establishing ground rules, see the CTE's Teaching Tip, Establishing Ground Rules on the First (or Second) Day of Class.
- Start and end class on time, and provide a ten minute break for every 50 minutes of instruction. This break helps "reset"their attention and provides an opportunity for students to get to know each other and you.
- In addition to reviewing the syllabus and other logistics on the first day, plan an activity to introduce them to the content. This helps to pique their interest and it sends the message that being in class is important.
- Administer a pre-assessment to find out what your students already know about the subject.
- Explain how to prepare/study for the type of assignments and exams you administer. Use words like "I would" versus "you should." Better yet, have available statements from previous students regarding what helped them succeed, or invite a past student to briefly speak to your class.
- Seek out a different student each day and get to know something about him or her during the break and/or before and after class.
Povlacs, Joyce T. "101 Things You Can Do the First Three Weeks of Class." Faculty Development. Honolulu Comm. Coll., 2008. Web. 10 Jul. 2008.