Do you have any classroom goals for the school year? Setting classroom goals encourages a strong, positive classroom culture by allowing you to foster an environment where students can interact with and build connections with one another. Start nurturing a positive culture conducive to learning with these four goals.

1. Create Something That Is Uniquely Yours

A little creativity can help engage your students and encourage stronger connections with them. Many teachers have established unique activities in their classrooms, like special handshakes with every student before they enter the classroom. Individualized activities like a handshake or special greeting may foster the belief in each student that they matter and that they bring their own special light to the classroom.

Another creative activity that can evoke a sense of belonging is having a classroom talent show for students to showcase their hidden talents. This gives your students something fun and entertaining to look forward to every now and then. It’s also important to design a unique activity based on your students’ backgrounds and interests to ensure their comfort and engagement during class.

2. Acknowledge Student Growth Often

It is essential for students to know that their academic performance and growth is meaningful. A study published in the Journal of Special Education found that teacher praise produced a positive impact on student academic performance and student behavior. Without consistent acknowledgment of student work, students may not take their academic achievements seriously, or their progress may start to falter. Make it a habit of celebrating academic growth in the classroom to demonstrate to your students that their hard work is not for nothing. Celebrate your students’ academic achievement with any of these methods:

    • Verbally praise the student in class about a specific achievement
    • Write a note to the student or his or her parent/guardian expressing your praise
    • Display successful student work on bulletin boards in the classroom
    • Offer small rewards such as a homework pass

Think of what you may already be doing to acknowledge your student’s hard work and add onto it–there are never too many ways to praise your students.

3. Offer Opportunities to Bond with Students

Create a more inviting classroom that allows for students to feel connected to you beyond schoolwork. Give your students opportunities to chat with you individually or as a class about each other’s interests, hobbies, and lifestyles. You may be surprised to find out what you and your students have in common and bond over. Additionally, periodically ask for their input when planning lessons, classroom activities, and field trips. This will give your students a chance to see their unique interests and ideas incorporated into their classes.

4. Incorporate More SEL Activities

Social-emotional learning activities are an excellent way to establish a positive classroom culture. Students will become more familiar with one another, learn to show compassion, and engage in more effective communication.

Try an activity like “Be Kind Bingo”: Create a bingo board that students can carry with them and will encourage them to display compassion. The bingo card can have squares with compassionate actions written on them such as “invite someone new to join your game,” or “look for a way to make someone else’s day better.” Have students mark each square as they complete each task. This activity can be done over the course of a week or longer.

Another SEL activity you can do in your classroom one day or multiple days a week is Rose, Thorn, Bud. This activity involves allowing students to share how their day is going with their classmates. Have a few students volunteer to share the highlight of their day (the rose), what went wrong during their day (the thorn), and what they’re looking forward to (the bud). This activity can be done at any grade level, but try out these SEL activities if you teach younger students.

Challenge yourself to implement even more SEL activities in your classroom this school year in conjunction with other goals to truly cultivate a positive classroom culture.


EVERFI Author ImageAyo Akiwumi is an intern for the EVERFI K-12 Team. She is currently a senior at the University of Maryland.

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