Invite students to co-create your classroom environment
Creating a caring classroom environment depends on having a shared definition of what a caring classroom looks and feel like, and then co-creating expectations that support it. At the start of the year, facilitate a discussion with your students about how they want to be treated in your classroom, and build shared understanding of how your classroom can be a caring space all year.
Positive things happen when students are co-designers
Research suggests that involving students in design and decision-making has a positive effect on student engagement and learning. Class discussions focused on the meaning, benefits, and importance of community, the specific behaviors that show caring and concern for others, ways to make the classroom a safe and inviting place for everyone, and student rights and responsibilities can foster classroom community (Korinek et al., 1999, p. 5). Sharing power, or in other words showing students respect and including them in decisions and opportunities, is a key tenet of developmental relationships (Search Institute, 2017).
Check out these stories from educators in our community who have focused on their learning environments.
- Lessons on Equity from My Students
- Empower Students to Create a Caring Environment
- Fostering an Inclusive Environment
- The Take Care of Me List
Inspired to try this practice?
The purpose of this exercise is to co-create classroom expectations that outline how students want to be treated by each other, how students want to be treated by the teacher, and how you want to be treated by your students. Teachers will facilitate a design session with your students to help them define caring in their own words, and use that conversation to co-create classroom expectations.
This practice would be a great way to kick off the year and ensure your students have clear expectations and can guide their behavior in your class against a shared understanding of how they want to be treated.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect and what you will need as you plan:
- Who should try it? This practice can be adapted for K-12 students.
- When you should you try it? This practice is best suited for the start of the school year.
- What materials are needed? None are necessary for discussion, but if you’d like to make your classroom expectations visible, consider having these materials handy: poster board and markers handy.
- Poster board or a whiteboard
- Markers, pencils, pens for writing ideas
- Post-it notes for students to contribute ideas
- How much time is needed? This practice will take 40-60 minutes to complete.
If you’re ready to get started, download the toolkit and follow the guidelines to engage your students in a process of co-designing classroom expectations this year.
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Download the Toolkit
Co-create your classroom environment with our downloadable toolkit!