The Teacher Tip

Try These Steps to Develop a Classroom Environment

August 9, 2017

Adapted from No More Sharpening Pencils During Work Time and Other Time Wasters by Elizabeth H. Brinkerhoff and Alysia D. Roehrig


One of the first things to recognize is that students who are mutually respectful and supportive are better able to work through differences for the sake of learning. We might think of our class as a team working together as a learning community. Building the class as a team (or family) and developing teamwork within small groups are equally important.


Using the “team” idea as a framework, list the qualities that you and your students need to have to play on the same team:

·       Goal for class.

·       Strong communication that is both respectful and productive for the goal.

·       Supportive, caring relationships between teacher and students.

·       An understanding of peers’ strengths and weaknesses.

·       An understanding of classroom procedures that help to facilitate learning.


Next, create an action plan that involves all of the members of the class. Your plan may include:

·       Discussion of why you are at school (purpose)

·       Building communication skills using routines as frames during interaction (For example, you may provide the sentence “My favorite thing about school is ______________, but I really don’t like _________________.”) In time, students won’t need the framing sentence, but initially this may be helpful.


Students in the elementary classroom, just like a winning team, must work together toward a common goal or purpose. Non-instructional time can help develop a team-like environment. In this environment, less time is wasted for lack of focus or clarity. 

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