In every teacher’s head, the perfect classroom looks something like this: everyone is quiet, focused, attentive, and completely immersed in what the educator has to say, and there are no interruptions or distractions to spoil the experience. Of course, the reality tends to be a little different, and it’s very rare that even the best of us can hold the attention of everyone in the room, every single day. In truth, while it’s impossible to get every detail right and defeat external influences like a student having a bad day and acting out, teachers can still control what happens inside their classrooms. Everyone can be given a chance to do well, and if you want to help your learners become more focused and successful, here are some ways you can make your classroom a place of productivity and motivation.
Make sure the classroom is a safe space
If a student feels like they might be judged or ridiculed for speaking up, then you’ll never get them to enjoy their classes. Having a safe space means taking care of the mental and emotional needs of the students before anything else because these are the things they need to relax and embrace the material you’re trying to teach them. Prejudice of any sort should simply not have a place here, and you want to make sure to let everyone know that they’re free to approach you with questions, and what’s more, that they’re free to express themselves and be creative. Remember, if you want to be respected, you must respect the young people in your care in turn.
Make sure it’s clean and pleasant
Stuffy, claustrophobic classrooms that don’t have an ounce of life to them are a recipe for boredom. If all your students can see are greyish walls as they breathe in poorly air-conditioned air and sit on uncomfortable chairs, they might not be able to focus regardless of how interesting the subject is. You want to make the classroom a pleasant place that will inspire confidence, and to do that you only need a few things. A few pictures and posters to put up, a good HEPA air purifier to get rid of that stuffiness, and maybe you could occasionally bring in fresh flowers to bring back the liveliness. In fact, you can encourage your students to help you decorate—most of them are bound to enjoy the opportunity to have something of their own making displayed on the walls.
Use available resources
You live in the age of modern technology, so you might as well use it! You can easily increase engagement in the classroom if you use tricks like interactive lessons, and sometimes something as simple as having a computer and internet access in the room can make learning a lot easier — from finding games for your students to play to using online materials and video lessons to present a subject in an entirely new light.
Reinforce good behaviors
You want your students to feel good about themselves when they do something right, and there’s nothing more encouraging than rewarding them with simple things like certificates, stickers, tokens, or even just praise. There’s more to it than just good grades—you want them to know you’re paying attention and acknowledging their effort. This will build up a good rapport between you and the learners.
Bring in positive role-models
Parents, important community members, and people skilled in certain professions can be very good role models for students. If you can bring in a guest speaker who will talk about their first-hand experience and really show practical, real-world application of the things you wish to impart upon your students will motivate them to try harder.
Be a positive presence yourself
It might be a little exhausting, but it means the world to students to know that there’s someone there who is always uplifting and who believes they can really make it. This is particularly important for teachers who are leading a group of children or teens and trying to help them learn valuable skills. If you can, be the bright, shining light that others can look up to — this way you will be their biggest inspiration.
Let the students have a say
Students want to know that their opinion is valued, and showing them you’re willing to listen is important. Allow them to air out their complaints and suggest how you can use your class time. Don’t worry, they won’t immediately jump into procrastination. On the contrary, good students might actually offer you valuable insight and let you modify your class in a way that will encourage everyone’s productivity.
Be open-minded and remember that you are the biggest role model that your students have. If you enjoy your own classes and let positive energy flow through the classroom, you’ll achieve a great level of success.
Claire is a personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. She enjoys life to the fullest in the healthiest way possible and loves to share her insights into the lifestyle, parenting, education, and entrepreneurship. Feel free to reach her on Facebook and Twitter.