A look into the gods of Greek mythology is an interesting read. Each had specific attributes of power and frequent interaction with humans. Three are of particular interest to me: Aeolus, Poseidon, and Zeus. Why? Because each had specific strengths related to the weather. Aeolus was the keeper of the winds, Poseidon ruled over storms, hurricanes, the weather, and the rain. And Zeus had power over the things of the sky: clouds, rain, thunder, lightning, and wind.
You might already be asking what a discussion of the Greek gods and weather has to do with teaching and learning. Well actually it has a lot more than you might think. And what I am referring to specifically is the oft-overlooked topic of classroom climate. I was reading through an article by Maryellen Weimer and she made reference to a definition given by Barry Fraser. Fraser defines classroom climate “as a series of psycho-social relationships that exist between faculty and students collectively and individually.” In other words, class climate refers to how a student interacts and develops with regard to a social setting.
One reason that I love the teaching and learning process is that, as the instructor, I have the privilege and opportunity to control the “weather” of my classroom. In other words, I have the ability to structure the type of environment in which my students will reside for the next class hour. Will they feel supported or on their own? Do they come in with a sense of anticipation or a dreaded feeling of confusion or apathy? Do they know if I am about their success or just my getting through my content? Do they sense I am “for them” and love them?
I do feel the pressures of teaching, feeling prepared, and getting through the material. But my effectiveness in the classroom is tied very closely to the type of classroom environment I maintain as a teacher. For me to put minimal effort into the climate of my classroom will be communicated to my students. Perhaps not overtly but certainly implied. An energizing and positive classroom climate does not just happen. It is intentional and strategic. It takes intentional planning and some careful consideration.
A classroom climate will do one of two things for a student: it will either speak “come on in and make yourself at home” or it will speak “please don’t bother me – I am busy with teaching you right now.”
In my next post, I will share some wonderfully easy yet creative ideas for how to dial up some great weather for your classroom. Stay tuned!
Community Input: Why is classroom climate important to you as an educator? How does it provide added value?