When it comes to a teacher’s classroom, there are many different methods, practices, and strategies teachers can implement to provide a successful and productive classroom. Coming up with a list of ways to improve a classroom is easy, but turning it into a manageable—and actionable—list can be challenging.

The Sycamore team put together a short list of five things every classroom needs to help create an active, engaging environment, both academically and socially, that will help students thrive and succeed.

1. Technology

It’s no secret that technology has become a foundation on which students learn. Seeing children operate an iPad before they can even formulate a sentence is now considered ‘normal.’ Teachers can  leverage this reality in the classroom!

Not every school has the budget to assign each student an iPad or Chromebook, but student-assigned iPads and Chromebooks are not the only option when it comes to classroom tech. There are many digital resources teachers can use in the classroom to make learning both engaging and interesting, including interactive Smartboards, software companies like Prezi and a plethora of online platforms.

2. Failure

As strange as it sounds, failure plays a pivotal role in the learning process. Too often, students are afraid of saying the wrong answer in front of the class and looking foolish. Teachers can emphasize that it’s perfectly fine not to have all the answers. Failing teaches students to learn from their mistakes so they can avoid repeating them in the future. When students don’t have a fear of failure, they are more likely to embrace opportunities to learn something new. Isn’t that what education is all about?

3. Creativity

Students learn in a variety of different ways. It’s okay for students to read from their textbooks and complete worksheets, but if they are doing this every day for every lesson, a pattern of redundancy and apathy will inevitably set in. Allowing students to be creative on school projects, homework assignments, and collaborating with their peers will go a long way in creating a stable learning environment that ensures students are able to showcase their own unique talents and skills.

4. Personality

At the elementary grade levels, it’s essential for students to learn in a classroom environment that is both engaging and inviting. Students at this level respond best to bright colors and decorations, artwork hung on the walls, desks organized in circles/groups, and other environmental elements that stimulate their creativity. But don’t let the “too cool for school” high school students fool you, either. Whether they will admit or not, they also crave a classroom that is equally inviting.

Students are in school roughly eight hours/day. The last thing they want is to sit in a classroom that is bland and boring with plain white walls and no creative elements. Teachers can easily give their classrooms some personality! Students will be much more responsive to learning in an environment that is aesthetically-pleasing and looks like a place where students can have fun, be creative, and learn at the same time.

5. Routines and Procedures

Structure is a crucial component to a classroom. This is why school starts at the same time every day and ends at the same time every day. Routines and structure make life feel more predictable and safe for everyone—especially students who are juggling so many different things—from their daily classes to athletics and extracurricular activities, and more. In other words, students need to know what’s expected of them each and every day.

Some teachers display a “jump start your day” checklist that students see as soon as they enter the classroom. This helps them get their brains in gear and in the mindset of focusing and learning. Whatever routines and procedures are put in place, it’s important to establish them on day one and stay consistent. This doesn’t mean the classroom has to be mundane, but if students know what is expected of them on a daily basis, the positive effects of academic engagement and behavior will be greatly increased.

Teachers and students, we’d love to hear what makes your classroom successful! Share your comments and ideas below.

This article originally appeared on Sycamore School.

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