George Lucas Educational Foundation
Learning Environments

10 Traits of an Encouraging Classroom

July 16, 2014

Summer is quickly passing by and before you know it, it will be time for students and teachers return to the classroom (if they haven’t already). As you take the some time to recharge, reflect and plan for next year, it’s important to remember schools are a place for learning; not only a place for students to learn - but for students, educators, families and the community at large. If we can create a positive learning environment, where all feel welcome, we can expand the learning happening. People want to be there and participate. They don’t fear the idea of thinking outside of the box or sharing their ideas. The community’s ties become stronger as they learn together; from one another, regardless of their title. But how do we achieve that? What traits set the foundation for a positive environment? Some that come to my mind (these apply to everyone in the community)...

10. Relationships and trust. Without either of these, there is no real community. You need them. This TED Talk is one of my faves. It touches on several traits I have listed, including these two.

9. Listening with an open mind and without judgement. It's difficult to hear what others are truly saying if one only hears what they want to hear.

8. Encourages creativity.

7. Time to reflect & grow. As we take in information, we need to give our minds downtime to process and reflect to maximize our learning.

6. Recognize failed attempts as a step in learning - not as failing. You only fail if you give up and see your attempt as the end. We need to embrace failed attempts...encourage them even. (“Mindset” by Carol Dweck is a wonderful read on this topic.)

5. Empathy. This is a necessity in life if you ask me. A great post on Edutopia that I have referenced before on empathy with suggestions on how to develop this ability.

4. A safe place. Not only a place one feels physically safe - but also emotionally.

3. People are seen as unique individuals & not a number.

2. A fun environment. We all have our bad days. Knowing that you have a place to go that will help put a smile on your face makes it that much better! Smiles are welcoming and inviting.

1. The tenth one I'll leave blank. Fill in your #1... What isn't on this list that you feel is key? What makes your learning community a positive one?

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