How to make your classroom environment more inviting for students

Updated: Nov 17, 2021


Practical teaching ideas you can use in your classroom tomorrow


You know that your job is to provide your students with a great learning experience. That means you need to be creative and come up with teaching ideas that get the kids excited about whatever it is that you're teaching. You also want to make sure that they're having fun while they learn. Here are some of the best ideas right here for you to try out in your classroom...

  1. Teach through storytelling.

  2. Make your lessons feel like games to keep students engaged.

  3. Use strong visuals to make your teaching more effective.

  4. Use cooperative learning strategies to make students care about one another's success as well as their own.

  5. Create a learning environment that is comfortable and welcoming for all of your students.

Five Practical Teaching Ideas


1. Teach through storytelling.

You can’t teach people something in isolation. The best way to teach is through storytelling because stories are fun. If you can find ways to incorporate stories into your lessons, you’ll be able to engage your students in a way that’s much more memorable.

Before you start teaching a lesson, try to find a story that relates to the topic you’re going to cover. Think of your friends or family members and any stories they have share with you. A story can be as simple as a brief anecdote from their own life, which you can use as an introduction to a lesson or as a way to introduce new material.


Telling stories in the classroom is more than just window dressing. Students remember stories, and they remember them better when they are actively involved in the story. And if you use stories that are relevant to your lessons' topic, students will be more engaged because they'll see how the lessons you're teaching relate to their lives.


As teachers, we often talk to students about topics without telling them stories about them. That’s like talking to someone about an experience you had without giving any context or background information. The listener has no way of knowing how you know what you know or why it's important, so it's difficult for him to connect with you on a human level.


Stories can illustrate principles, provide context for concepts, or just give background information. Stories also illustrate the value of what you’re teaching so that students can see how it applies to their lives.


It's as simple as teaching students about how to read a map by starting with the story of the time you lost your way in an unfamiliar part of town. Explain that having a map was like having a road atlas you could always keep with you, and then explain how a map worked as it relates to your learning targets.

 
For a story to be effective, it helps to have three elements:
  • a character from an unfamiliar culture, which gives students a sense of perspective;

  • a dramatic situation that's unusual or unexpected, which helps the students focus on what's important;

  • and a lesson or moral applicable to your topic at hand, which allows the students to see how the lesson relates to their lives.

 

2. Make your lessons feel like games to keep students engaged.

Engage your students in the lessons you’re teaching by making them interactive and fun. Include games that are related to the content you’re teaching, so that your students are learning while having fun.

It is easy to get caught up in the fast-paced, high-pressure life of a teacher. Between lesson planning, grading papers, correcting quizzes and tests, and dealing with disruptive students, it's easy to lose sight of what being a teacher is all about. Teaching is about engaging your students in the lessons you are teaching by making them interactive and fun.


Students are more likely to enjoy their school day when they are involved in the subject matter you are teaching. You can make your lessons more enjoyable for your students by using games that are related to the content you are teaching. This will help them to learn while having fun.


Games can be a great way to engage your student’s interest in what you’re teaching. They can also make what you’re teaching more understandable to them, especially when the game relates to the content you’re teaching. Some students may even find what you’re teaching boring if it doesn’t include educational games.


Games are fun, but playing games doesn't necessarily mean that your students will learn something from it. Play games that are related to the lesson you're teaching so that they can be used as educational tools that will help your students understand what you’re trying to teach them better.


3. Use strong visuals to make your teaching more effective.

It’s important to use strong visuals to make your teaching more effective. In this age of information overload, people don’t have the time or the patience to read a lot of text. They want to see the information, and they want to see it quickly. That means you have to use a lot of images and visuals.

You can use visual aids to make your teaching more interesting, but don’t forget that you are also teaching by what you show. Keep in mind that people are seeing what you are showing at the same time they are listening to what you are saying. And if the two aren’t coordinated, you will confuse them.


When you present a lesson, the apps and extensions available today allow you to show a lot of information to the class quickly and easily.


Here are some images a science teacher might use in his classes...


  • A giant poster showing questions from the science standards that students have to answer as part of their daily work.

This helps students see that science is not just one thing but a number of different things, and that the standards give them a checklist for how to do those things well.


It also reminds students that they can use their notes to answer the questions, an important point because it encourages critical thinking about what they are reading rather than just copying it down.

  • A series of posters showing good scientific writing.

If you want your students to do something, show them what it looks like when it’s done right. That way, they know what you expect from them, and they will know when they have done something well enough to move on.

  • A series of pictures showing the difference between good and bad writing.

For example, show pictures of two graphs; one of them clearly labeled and easy to understand while the other won't be labeled at all. That was effective


  • Get inspired in other ways to make your teaching ideas more powerful

Take some time to create guides that connect concepts and inspire the students to make a leap of faith to apply what you’re teaching them. This will turn them into more receptive readers of all future content you create.


4. Use cooperative learning strategies to make students care about one another's success as well as their own.

Cooperative learning is a strategy that aims to make students care about one another's success as well as their own. As a result, students feel responsible for one another and everyone works together as a team to succeed.

Cooperative learning is not a passing fad. It is a strategy that you can use right now in your classroom. Cooperative learning is a low-risk strategy that gives you a lot of flexibility and allows you to differentiate instruction easily.


Cooperative learning takes a variety of forms. A basic model is the jigsaw method, where students work in teams to accomplish a project. Each team member contributes to the overall project individually and then shares his or her information with the rest of the team. This way, each student learns from everyone else in his or her group, giving him or her different perspectives on the same material.

This strategy helps students develop their problem-solving skills as well as their ability to work together as a team. Whether you’re teaching 6th grade computer science or working with high school juniors, cooperative learning is the key to success.


The goal is to create an environment in which students are engaged in the learning process. Cooperative learning is not meant to replace traditional teaching but to supplement it.


By using cooperative learning, teachers can help increase student engagement and skill development while making the classroom a more positive and productive place for students and teachers alike.


5. Create a learning environment that is comfortable and welcoming for your students.


Creating a learning environment that is comfortable and welcoming for your students is easier said than done, but the more you can do to create this type of environment, the better. It's vital that your students feel safe and supported by you and their peers.


Facilitating a safe learning environment is all about creating safety through trust. The minute you enter your classroom, students will be reading you for cues about what is expected of them in your class. They are looking for signs that they can trust you to take care of them.


When you walk into the classroom the right way, it sends a strong message to students that they are in the right place — that this is an environment where their learning will be valued, respected, and nurtured.


Students are more likely to feel relaxed, be creative, and learn if they are not anxious or nervous about being judged by their peers.


It is important to have a classroom that is conducive to learning. Make sure it's clean, quiet, well-lit, and organized. Post rules that are clear and consistent with regard to behavior in the classroom. It's also helpful to provide students with a copy of the school's code of conduct so they know what is expected of them.


The classroom should also be stocked with the materials you will need for your lesson. It's helpful to have extra paper on hand in case some students need more paper for an assignment. When possible, keep all necessary supplies in an easy-to-reach location at so you can distribute them quickly when needed.


Your classroom should establish a tone of respect. Setting rules for expected behavior ensures that everyone knows what is acceptable and what isn't. Furthermore, it shows that you respect your students by trying to make their learning experience free from distractions and disruptions.


Teaching is not what you do, it's how you think


A lot of teachers have trouble coming up with good teaching ideas. It's because they don't have a framework for thinking about teaching. They don't have a set of fixed principles that they can use to guide their thinking.


A lot of teachers think that the way to be creative is to let your imagination run wild and try to come up with really "fun" teaching ideas. That can work, but it has its limits. The problem is that when you're trying to come up with really fun things, your mind will tend to focus on what's fun for you and not necessarily on what's most engaging for the students.


At the other end of the spectrum, some teachers think that creativity means coming up with really difficult problems and challenges for the students. This doesn't work either because it tends to be too frustrating for the students. What if they just aren't smart enough to figure out such hard problems?


That said, it can be hard to come up with ideas that are both effective and practical. You want to spend your time on teaching ideas that you know will work, not just some half-baked idea that maybe will work.


To do this, it's important to be able to differentiate between good teaching ideas and bad ones.


Here are some criteria for judging a good teaching idea:

  1. Does it get the point across?

  2. Is it engaging?

  3. Does it leave room for student creativity?

  4. Does it require little or no preparation time on your part?

  5. Does the topic of discussion relate to what you're trying to teach?

  6. Is there a way to relate it back to an existing lesson (if applicable)?

  7. Do the children love it?

  8. Can I make modifications quickly and easily if necessary?


For creative teaching ideas, you can make great use of ideas from other teachers, or even top educational influencers. The big question is how to take large amounts of creative teaching ideas and then translate them into creative teaching ideas that are practical for your classroom.