Education plays a fundamental role in the formation of the person. It is not about assimilating knowledge, something that can be acquired by reading books, but about transforming the person. Accompanying students in their growth and transformation, and guiding them on this exciting journey, is the role of the teachers. Educating, in short, is not teaching someone something they did not know, but making them someone who did not exist.
This process takes place in the classroom, the first environment outside the home in which we are going to help the students to grow and learn from our hand, along with the rest of the classmates. They are going to spend many years and many hours interacting with other people outside the home.
Being a teacher is not just knowing some content and explaining it. It is much more: it is to facilitate and provide the means for learning. The environment that is created in the classroom is a key aspect for learning to take place and for students to grow and learn.
Neuroscience points out that the brains of teachers and students are synchronized , they are in constant communication. The most important area of the brain in this synchronization is the one that works with attention, equanimous observation and self-awareness. Teachers are guides, beacons of student development; and attention, awareness and equanimity are key in the interaction that occurs between teachers and students.
The classroom environment will make the lived experience and learning good or bad. What can we do to create a good atmosphere in the classroom?
- Be a role model for the student body. Seeking coherence between what we say and what we do. Reinforcing our messages with our behaviors, avoiding inconsistencies, makes students feel authentic and trust us. Being able to show ourselves from the authenticity, as we are, without trying to hide ourselves, showing that we do not know when we do not know, and that they feel us by their side.
- Make the rules clear. Reaching a consensus on the rules of operation of the classroom will help in this task. It is important to socialize the rules, assume them and respect them. We will achieve a commitment to the rules of the game if they feel that they have been part of them, that they have been able to express themselves, that they are given a space and are listened to.
- Look for positive experiences. Trying to make coming to the classroom an experience of safety, enjoyment and something positive is fundamental for the development and memory of our passage through the center. The fundamental actor is the teaching staff. We are creators of enabling scenes. We can clear our negative judgments towards the students, and find security and enjoyment in ourselves, which is immediately transferred to the students.
- Don’t tolerate bad behavior. Nip inappropriate behaviors in the bud and avoid greater evils. You should not tolerate this type of behavior. Otherwise, it will cost us, or we will not be able to stop them later. Explain the consequences of these behaviors openly: being able to talk about it facilitates understanding and little by little the integration of learning. Understanding is key to deep learning.
- Make the environment attractive. An orderly classroom, with an attractive design, in which they can participate, makes the environment more welcoming. Do your best given the context in which we have to work. Organize the classroom in the most appropriate way for the learning you want to achieve.
- Make decisions by consensus. Try not to impose decisions, but to adopt them by participation and consensus. We are training the citizens of the future. There is no better occasion to internalize the norms of functioning in society than in the center. Complaints are more valid if they are associated with proposals. It works by consensus and seeks that the students participate.
- Generate a spirit of belonging to the group. Encourage activities that help create groups, support each other and solve problems. Watch out for inappropriate behaviors and channel them towards socially responsible behaviors. Make them feel supported by the group and what happens there will be part of something important. The group is often a threat: make it a place of safety.
- Encourage the students. Avoid routine in the classroom. May each day be different, stimulating new behaviors and breaking monotony. Approach what the students can understand, not what you understand, to build from where they start. Renew your motivation and routine to be able to do the same with the students.
- Take care of communication in the classroom. Look for positive communication. Encourages listening to others and empathy. Listening is an engine of learning. Look into the eyes of all the students, do not leave anyone to contact the gaze, do not stay only in those who interest them, look for everyone and tell them with your eyes that you care.
- Power emotions that open possibilities . Work with what happens in the classroom. If it has to do with negative emotions, use the energy of these emotions to turn them around and turn them into the engine of what happens. We already know that without emotion there is no learning, and we can take advantage of emotions and put them in our favor. Turn joy into sustained enjoyment, look for the taste of tenderness in the face of anger, savor the union of creating a collective project. Emotions are contagious, those that go with you to the classroom will be transformed into emotions that the students will feel. Breathe and be aware of your emotions, find the one you need for each session and enter it so that the students are infected. There are no classes in which you learn less than when the teachers are bored and unmotivated.
Author Bios: Elena Quevedo is Lecturer & Researcher. Faculty of Psychology and Education. Educational Innovation Unit (Responsible Teacher Training) and Fernando Díez Ruiz is a Ph.D. Professor, Faculty of Psychology and Education both at the University of Deusto