Creating a Positive Learning Environment
Creating and maintaining a positive learning environment in your classroom is one of the key components to ensuring the success of your adult learners. So how do we go about creating this environment? According to James Ballou (2011) there are some basic guidelines that adult educators should incorporate into their classroom management to ensure the environment they create is a positive one and that they are able to maintain this environment throughout the course. These guideline include:
- Treat students as adults and recognize their existing skill and experience
- Set clear and meaningful expectations for adult students
- Avoid creating an environment that results in hostility
- Address errors privately and respectfully
In order for me to foster a positive learning environment, in an upcoming course I will be teaching, I plan to involve my students in the process of creating classroom management rules. At the beginning of the first class I will completing an exercise in which we will develop our classroom rules as a collective group. I will be asking for volunteers to assist with recording the suggestions of the group, as well as encouraging all students to participate in the creation of the rules; this process encourages active engagement of the student. If necessary, I will offer suggestions and guide the students to come up with classroom rules that promote equality, establish classroom behaviour expectations, and promote a safe and respectful environment for all. Prior to the next class I plan to create a visually stimulating poster that includes all off the classroom rules; this poster will be hung in the classroom to remind students of the rules and hold them accountable to following them.
Another key element to establishing a positive learning environment, that James Ballou addresses in his article “Creating a Positive Learning Environment for Adults”, is to “set clear and meaningful expectations for adult students.” Classroom management rules help to reach this goal but I also feel it is necessary for educators to set forth all other expectations in writing in the form of a course syllabus. Since I know that not all students will thoroughly read the course syllabus independently, I also plan to go over the course syllabus during the first class. This allows me to verbalize my expectations to the students but also gives the students an opportunity to ask questions or raise any concerns they may have regarding the content incorporated into the syllabus.
The above strategies for creating and maintaining a positive learning environment will assist me to ensure that the students feel they are in a safe learning environment and help me to foster a closer working relationship with them. In doing so, it will encourage student engagement and offer a better learning environment which will assist the students to be successful in the course.
For further strategies, on how you too can create and maintain a positive learning environment within your classroom, please refer to the link for James Ballou’s article within my resource section.