How to create a good and inclusive classroom environment

What is a classroom environment?

Classroom environment can be defined as the conditions in a classroom that are important for the students' learning, health, and well-being.

Why create a good classroom environment?

Creating a good classroom environment is important for several reasons. A good classroom environment is an important part of a good learning environment and school environment. A good classroom environment can create better well-being, learning, health, fewer dropouts and prevents school refusal.

In other words, there are many good reasons to work on creating a good classroom environment. How much and how you work with the classroom environment will of course vary with the type of students’ you work with. Here are some activities you can use to work with the classroom environment in your class.

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Overview of activities

  1. Get to know the new class
  2. New school year. What are you looking forward to and dreading?
  3. Improve the classroom environment with student participation
  4. Create class rules
  5. Poll: How are we doing?
  6. Counter bullying

Get to know the new class

A prerequisite for a good classroom environment is that students get the chance to get to know each other at the start of the year, become confident in each other, and make friends in the class. Here you will find 19 get-to-know each other activities that you can use or adapt to your class.

New school year. What are you looking forward to and dreading?

A new school year brings with it new opportunities and challenges. It can be nice to start the year by letting your students reflect a little on what they look forward to and dread about the year. Perhaps some elements will appear that may be relevant to work on in connection with the classroom environment.

Improve the classroom environment with student participation

Allowing students to help decide what kind of classroom environment they want can be very effective. Then it feels more like the classroom environment is something they are helping to create - which they actually are to a large extent. Feel free to set aside time for this at the start of the year, e.g. during the class hour, or by setting up a separate hour to let the students work with the classroom environment as a theme.

A good plan allows students to reflect on what a classroom environment is, how they experience it today, and how they together can contribute to create the classroom environment they want. To make sure that everyone participates, even if you think it is scary to participate in classroom discussions, you can use a ready-made plan adapted to this.

Create class rules

Good class rules are an important foundation for a good classroom environment and learning environment. This is important at all grade levels, and helps students know what they can expect from each other and from you as a teacher. It is important that everyone in the class feels ownership and commitment to the class rules. The best way to achieve this is to have your students create the class rules (with guidance from you as the teacher of course).

This teaching plan is designed so that students first get to reflect on why class rules might be a good idea. They must then reflect on what is important to them in the classroom before they together make proposals for class rules. The class gets to vote on the rules that are important to them, and the results can be used as a starting point to determine the final class rules. A tip could be to write the class rules on a poster that can be hung in the classroom.

Poll: How are we doing?

Make sure that the work you have done with the classroom environment and classroom rules at the start of the year does not get left in a drawer and forgotten when everyday life sets in. One way to avoid this is to do a regular check-in/status on how the students experience the classroom environment.

Here you will find a simple check-in template where students answer how good they think the classroom environment is from 1 to 5 stars. Discuss with the class afterwards whether they are satisfied with the result, and what can be done to make everyone feel as good as 5 stars.

It might be nice to use this once a month. Then you can also compare the development over time and see if the classroom environment improves as you work on it.

Counter bullying

Bullying is very destructive for the person or those who are exposed to it, and it also leads to a poor class and psychosocial learning environment. It is important to work preventively, and deal with bullying situations immediately if they arise.

This activity can be used to work with bullying issues in the class. It can be used as is or adapted to your situation. The main aim is to let your students reflect on what bullying is, what they themselves can do if they see or experience bullying, and that gives your students the opportunity to ask the questions they have about bullying.