Positivity can significantly influence the quality of teaching and learning within a school. Students are generally happier and learn better when they view the learning environment as positive and supportive.
Teachers benefit as well from creating a positive atmosphere. After all, if you spend a significant portion of your day in class – why not make that experience as enjoyable as possible for all involved?
With all that in mind, here are some easy ways you can make your school or classroom a happier, more positive space:
Start the day off right with a fun activity and get the class energised. For younger kids, it could be as simple as a special greeting to each class member. While high-fives are not exactly Covid-safe for now, you can still give a thumbs up, or silly wave to elicit a giggle. For older students, you can play a song online over the ActivPanel. Bonus points if the song relates to the content being taught that day; you can make a game out of it and allow students to guess what’s on the agenda.
Activities such as this fun flipchart or this compliment jar that reinforce good behaviour with a reward system can lead to a more harmonious classroom atmosphere. Split screen on the ActivPanel means you can keep the chart up on one side of your display without interrupting your normal lesson.
Setting the scene
Give students a say in the space in which they learn. You can try a class-wide discussion on how to shape desks or try flexible seating, such as this WA school has done. Getting their input means that students have the extra benefit of knowing the reasons for setting up workspaces in a particular way.
You can position different workstations to suit different learning styles: exercise balls for kinetic learners who learn best when in motion, or high desks and stools that allow students to stand for periods.
Positive affirmation apps can do wonders for maintaining a happy and healthy environment within the class. Here’s a list of ten apps to get you started. You can download these onto the ActivPanel and students’ personal devices. Then, if you feel the energy in the class begin to dip, you can bring it back up with the power of positivity.
This is in contrast to the “positive behaviour apps” that have been gaining popularity within classrooms, which should be approached with caution. These kinds of apps often only take into account a limited number of categories for “good” behaviour, which can be disheartening for students who are outside the criteria. These apps can also store data for unclear purposes, potentially selling them to third-party buyers.
A tried-and-true teaching technique, sandwiching feedback is always something to keep in mind when maintaining a positive environment. Making sure you pre-empt and follow any negative feedback with something positive is just as important for school administrators when communicating with teachers as it is for teachers interacting with students.
It’s especially crucial to sandwich your comments if you are teaching remotely, as students and teachers will have less positive interaction to cushion any feelings of negativity. If you struggle to find any encouraging feedback to offer, don’t give feedback at all – reteach instead.
If you want to learn more ways you can introduce positivity and wellbeing into your school life, why not read our blog: Back to school checklist: Four ways to focus on wellbeing.