EXPLORING STRATEGIES WHEN THE CLASS CLIMATE INADVERTENTLY THREATENS STUDENTS
The Eberly Center from Carnegie Mellon University wrote an interesting article which talks about the intellectual, social, emotional and physical classroom environment. The climate can be influenced positively or negatively by many different factors. There are a number of things that teachers can do to provide a supportive respectful and safe environment.
The article recommends the following:
- Use the first day of class to establish the climate
- Establish ground rules
- Reduce anonymity
- Do not ask individuals to speak out for entire group
- Avoid differential treatment
- Acknowledge and draw on diversity
- Invite feedback
- Address offensive behaviour
- Acknowledge emotions
- Address problems outside of class
- Provide opportunities to cool off
- Facilitate active listening
- Turn discord into a learning opportunity
If you know certain topics will illicit strong feelings talk to your students ahead of time about the emotional aspects of these topics.You can also remind students that the differences of opinion are healthy.
It’s also important to recognize that although teachers cannot control all aspects of a course climate you should still try and maintain an environment that is both intellectually challenging and emotionally supportive.