The “Affective” Classroom

We spend a lot of time focusing on ways to make our classrooms effective, and that is a very good thing. We can improve our instruction, assignments, and goal setting in ways that make a positive impact on our students. When was the last time you thought of ways to make your classroom more affective? In other words, when was the last time you thought about how your classroom work supported the emotional health and wellbeing of students? 

Author Rick Wormeli has spent a considerable amount of time thinking about classroom emotional health. In his article The Seven Habits of Highly “Affective” Teachers he provides the following characteristics of teachers and classrooms that positively impact student emotional health. In summary, they:

  1. Find joy in others’ success. Teachers create safe and positive learning environments by celebrating individual and group wins. They offer encouragement throughout the learning process. 
  2. Cultivate perspective and reframe. Teachers create safe and positive learning environments by choosing to see things from a positive point of view. No doubt there are challenging days and challenging students. Actively choosing to be kind, see challenges as moments that will pass, and moving forward is great for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of the class. 
  3. Ditch the easy caricature. Teachers create safe and positive learning environments by looking beyond the surface tendencies of students. Spend any time in a teacher’s lounge and you are likely to hear of “that” student who has been “that way” since arriving in the building. “That” student may be dealing with some serious things that we don’t always know about. Resist the tendency to label. Look for the positive in each student. 
  4. Explore the ethics of teaching. Teachers create safe and positive learning environments by continually examining their practices and challenging their work. Every student in class, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, ability, or disability, needs the very best education we can provide. Regularly evaluating our practices in light of this moral and ethical responsibility can make our classrooms better. 
  5. Embrace humility. Teachers create safe and positive learning environments by admitting when things go wrong and working diligently to make them go right. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. Our greatest strengths develop when we admit our weaknesses and work to improve. 
  6. Value intellect. Teachers create safe and positive learning environments by using their intellectual curiosity to develop new lessons and new practices. If it is fresh and intellectually stimulating to you, it is more likely to stimulate your students. 
  7. Maintain passion and playfulness. Teachers create safe and positive learning environments by having fun with the content. Let’s face it – if you aren’t interested and having fun with your work, you can’t expect your students to be interested and have fun. 

As you prepare for next week, think of ways your classroom can become more affective. You and your students will be glad you did!

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