Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 9/9.5.1

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It Pays To Be Positive
By: Shannon Pridgen
Learning Targets

After reading this article, students should be able to:

-Explain many ways in which a teacher can have a positive attitude

-Identify the three most important ways to show students that they are welcomed in the classroom

-Tell why teachers are so important to the students

-Describe ways to be positive with students when they are not cooperating

-Design their own positive classroom environment!!

Introduction

Who is the first person that a student sees when entering a classroom? Who do students rely on to teach them all that they need to know about how to succeed in life? The answer is the teacher. Most children dread going to school when they wake up in the morning but is there not a way that teachers could change the way they feel? There are many ways in which one can create a positive learning environment in the classroom, but the main ingredient is the teacher.

"Children need models rather than critics."-Joseph Joubert
Why Is the Role of the Teacher So Important?

If a teacher wants to have a room full of students who will succeed, then he/she needs to set a good example in the classroom. In an article titled, "Setting A Tone For A Positive Learning Environment", Rebecca Schauffele says,"The teacher is the facilitator, the teacher sets an example, and the teacher is the role model. Attitude goes a long way(2009)." Students look up to their teachers each and every day. If teachers want to have students who are excited to learn, then they must be excited themselves. Even if one is having a rough morning, it is important for the teacher to come to school everyday with a smile on his/her face , otherwise the children are not going to want to be there either. The most important role of a teacher is to let the students know that they are respected and cared for. If students understand that they are wanted by the teachers, then they may be more willing to learn from them.

"They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel"—Anonymous.
How To Have A Positive Attitude

The word positive does not simply mean to be happy or optimistic all of the time, but to feel safe and comfortable too. While students are in the classroom, they need to feel wanted and valued. They need to know that even if they answer a question incorrectly or behave inappropriately that they will still be cared for. Instead of people telling children what not to do or how not to do something, they need to let the students know what they should do or suggest how they could do something. Another way to make students feel important is to give them choices. For example, if a child refuses to do schoolwork, positively ask the child, "Would you like to complete the worksheet during your play time at home or your free time at school?" More than likely, the child will choose to do the work at school because they want to play during their play time. In addition, the student now feels more important because they were able to make their own decision.

Creating A Positive Learning Environment

There are many other ways in which a teacher can create a positive learning environment such as, learning the students' names, making themselves available, and noticing each individual's differences. When a teacher calls a student by their name, it lets the child know that they are seen as an individual. Therefore, the student may feel more relaxed in the classroom or more willing to speak out loud in class discussions. By making themselves available, the student realizes that they can go to their teacher for help or to talk about other problems whenever they want to. If a child knows that their teacher is available and willing to listen, then they may be more willing to talk. It is also important to recognize that each student learns in a different way. Once a student becomes discouraged, it is hard to make them believe in themselves again. If a student gets the wrong answer, an encouraging teacher should go over the problem with the child and determine what went wrong. Then, he/she should suggest a way in which they can redo the problem together as a team. A teacher should never flat out tell the student that they are wrong because that will lower their self-esteem. Students see their teacher as a mentor, someone who will sail through the year not behind them or ahead of them, but right next to them.

"Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way." -George Evans

The students need to be engaged in activities and interact with one another. To make students interact with one another, assign group projects or play learning games as a class. A quote from "The University of Delaware Teacher Assistant Handbook" reads, "We know from research on teaching that students learn best in student-centered classrooms where they are actively involved not only with the subject matter but also with their classmates and their teachers." Therefore, it is a benefit to the students to get them to interect and socialize with other classmates. Once students become friends with other children in the classroom, they may be more eager to come to school. One way to have students interect with others is to rearrange the desks or seats every nine weeks so that they have the chance to interact with different children in the class. Adam Waxler, the author of "The Reading Process", suggests another positive idea, "While straight rows are conducive for lectures, students need to have an opportunity to share information with their peers and learn from one another. The room should change from rows to pairs to groups to circles and so on depending on the social interaction expected in the lesson(2004)." By doing this, children will feel the urge to learn more.

In the handbook titled, "A Positive Classroom Climate", the author suggests an idea, "Asking students to come to the front of the room so that they are close to each other encourages more participation than an arrangement with students scattered around the classroom." In this case, the students may feel more comfortable because they are not feeling discouraged by sitting alone. In addition, this also reduces a child's anxiety. Students tend to get very nervous when asked to write something on the board in front of the class or simply answer a question. According to Waxler, "Teachers can reduce anxiety by making instructions clear, avoiding unnecessary time pressures, and providing alternate assessments for students(2004)."

Conclusion

In this article, the colors that I chose to use are known as cool colors. Cool colors usually have a tendency to make people feel calm and welcomed. In the article titled, "The Colors of Calm", Jacci Bear says, "At the other end the cool colors are comforting and nurturing. Blue, green, and the neutrals white, gray, and silver are examples of cool colors(2009)." By using these colors, I wanted my readers to feel warm and welcomed, just like students should feel when they first enter a classroom at school. Although many factors weigh into creating a positive learning environment, teachers are the most important. Teachers should be the people who want to teach, who want to help children succeed, and who want to open the minds of young ones. To be a teacher is like living a dream because teachers actually get paid to stay positive.Who could ask for a better job?

"Teaching is not a profession. It's a passion." -Unknown
References

-"A Positive Classroom Climate." Teacher Assistant Handbook of The University of Delaware. Center For Teacher Effectiveness.

-Bear, Jacci Howard. "The Colors of Calm." Colors and Their Symbolism. The New York Times Company 2009. http://desktoppub.about.com/cs/color/a/symbolism_2.htm

-Martin, William. "The Really Big List of Education Quotes" The Best Liberal Quotes Ever. 25 October 2002.

-Schauffele, Rebecca. "Setting The Tone For A Positive Learning Environment." Ezine Articles. 2009.

-Waxler, Adam. "The Reading Process" The Teaching Teacher 2004. http://teaching-teacher.com/eteach-article13.htm

Quiz

1. Who is the most important person when it comes to creating a positive learning environment for the students?

A. Classmates

B. Parents

C. Principals

D. Teachers

2. What are the three best ways that a teacher can let the students know they are special?

A. Learn each student's name, make themselves available, and spend time with students outside of school

B. Learn each student's name, notices each child's differences, and make themselves available

C. Make themselves available, spend time with students outside of school, and have individual meetings with each student

D. Notice each child's differences, have individual meetings with each student, and learn each student's name

3. Apply your knowledge. If a student refused to go to art class with the rest of the class, what would be the most positive way to handle the situation?

A. Give the child a choice: Would you rather sit here all alone or go have fun in art class with all of the other students?

B. Ignore the child's behavior and leave him/her in the classroom in hopes that they will follow the teacher and other students to the art room

C. Make the child go to the art class even if he/she yells and screams

D. Tell the child that he/she will have to stay in the class alone

4. Consider this: A parent brings their child to class on the first day of school and the child is scared to enter the classroom. What is the best way that the teacher can make the student feel welcomed?

A. Ask the child to join the class and if he/she refuses then tell the parent that they do not have time for such nonsense

B. Explain to the parent that they can not make the child come into class and maybe they should try again the next day

C. Offer the child a reward such as a piece of candy or a toy

D. With a nice smile, tell the student what the lesson plans are for the day, focusing the most on the exciting craft the class will make or the neat new song they will learn

Answers

1. D-The teacher has the main affect on the student because he/she is the first peron the student sees each morning when coming into the classroom.

2. B-Learning each child's name makes them feel as if the teacher sees them as an individual, noticing each student's differences shows that the teacher accepts them for who they are, and making themselves available lets the students know that if they are willing to talk then the teacher is willing to listen.

3. A-Giving a child a choice is important because it lets the student know that their choice/opinion does matter.

4. D-Although B may look like the correct answer, it is actually D. A teacher should never give up on a child no matter how difficult the student is acting. By telling the child about all of the cool activities they have planned may take the child's interest.

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