Teacher Learning Community

Spring 2018 TLC: Students as Partners in Creating a Positive Classroom Environment

Course leader:

Teacher Quality Standards

  • QS II: Teachers establish a safe, inclusive and respectful learning environment for a diverse population of students.
    • Element A: Teachers foster a predictable learning environment characterized by acceptable student behavior and efficient use of time in which each student has a positive, nurturing relationship with caring adults and peers.

This set contains all of the resources used in the spring 2018 TLC Students as Partners in Creating a Positive Classroom Environment.


A Safe and Democratic Classroom

As we discussed at the face-to-face day, the climate of the school and the classroom set the stage for a partnership with students. Students need to feel that they are in a safe, inclusive, and respectful learning environment in order to become partners with their teachers and their peers. In this activity, we will revisit and go a bit deeper into the practices that might foster such an environment.


Understanding Student Needs in a Positive Classroom Environment

A classroom that supports students’ academic, physical, and social needs requires that the teacher have a thorough knowledge of the needs of students, both in a general sense and specific to their stage of development. Developmental stages have ramifications for students needs regarding expectations, routines, classroom grouping and the nature of academic work. Intentional teacher moves cultivate such a supportive environment, these moves include proactively getting to know students and applying what you’ve learned to support them.



Your approach to discipline can help to define the climate of your classroom. As you complete this activity, consider that, while we often think about discipline only as our responses to misbehavior in the classroom, the word actually comes from a Latin root which means “instruction.” If we think about discipline as the ways in which we “instruct” our students about appropriate behavior in a school setting, then we can consider 3 key parts of discipline: 1) Prevention (what happens to prevent misbehavior), 2) Action (what happens when misbehavior occurs), and 3) Resolution (ensuring that misbehavior does not interrupt the teaching-learning process for students). Throughout this activity, consider how students might be partners throughout this process and how discipline might look if it is used for teaching.

Maximizing Learning

The resources in this activity provide a glimpse into components of a classroom in which students are invested along with the teacher in learning. In such a classroom, there is a shared sense of importance about the work that is being done, and as a result, behavior problems tend to be much less frequent. This shared sense of importance is reflected in a high level of cognitive engagement, students thinking critically and making sense of their learning, and engagement in meaningful work. The teacher has an important role in establishing such an environment with students by intentionally fostering the climate of the classroom and then supporting students as they learn together. As you view these resources, consider what teacher actions might foster the type of classroom environment that has a purposeful focus on learning.

Becoming a Community of Learners

In this activity, we will consider ideas about how we might further foster the skills students need in order to build a supportive community. This includes teaching students how to embrace communication and discourse with one another, engage in academic risk, take ownership of their own learning, and learn from mistakes.