The environment in which students are given instruction is just as important to their learning process as the instruction itself. Even if you’ve painstakingly developed an amazing arsenal of creative curriculum, your students won’t benefit as much as they could if the atmosphere isn’t conducive to learning and knowledge retention. Though this fact is clear, opinions differ on how exactly one goes about creating the ideal culture for learning. The truth is that this process is an amalgam of many factors: the physical space you’re in, the ways in which you govern and manage your class, and the mood that is set. If you’re looking to optimize your classroom, consider these tips for how to best create a culture for learning.

Shifts in Conversation

The classic, outdated model of instruction involves a teacher standing at the front of the room and lecturing their students on a given subject matter. However, students will learn more effectively when they become the ones leading the conversation. According to EdWeek, you will know that you have created a culture of learning when the classroom conversations are predominantly led by students.

“Practice having students lead conversations early in the year.”

In order to integrate this strategy into your classroom, practice having students lead conversations early in the year. While it will require initial guidance to introduce this method, you may find that students gain the ability to lead classroom discussions confidently over time. Once this is accomplished, you will serve predominantly as a moderator of conversation rather than an orator, and your culture of learning will be better for it.

Develop a Clear Understanding of Classroom Policies

As the Southern Regional Education Board points out, no good can come from assuming that your students know what is expected from them when they enter the classroom. In order to promote a strong culture of learning, you will want to establish your classroom rules and policies as early as possible in the academic year. Regardless of the age of your students, this will create an environment of responsibility and accountability. By making these rules clear from the get go, you may find that students are more well-behaved, more accountable for their decisions, and that you have a heightened culture of learning.

Respect

In order to develop a healthy and effective culture for learning, few things will be as crucial as generating and constantly reinforcing a respect for all members of the classroom. Without this mutually held respect students are less likely to feel comfortable in the learning environment and are far less able to engage meaningfully with the curriculum. In all aspects of your instruction, you should be reinforcing the importance of respect. This belief  should also be thoroughly outlined when you develop your classroom rules and policies at the beginning of the year.