Enhancing classroom climate

Children often feel vulnerable in classrooms, particularly because of their teacher's power to control and evaluate. This affects how children experience school and their openness to new learning. A considerable responsibility is thus placed on teachers to reflect on how they use their power and on how this use affects children. It is important for teachers to use their power constructively to encourage, to reinforce appropriate child actions and to enhance self-esteem.

In terms of building children's confidence and self-esteem the following provide both a conceptual overview, a review of research and practical suggestions for learning activities that are likely to help pupils feel better about themselves.

An `incorporative classroom' is one which is consciously designed to enable each child to act as a full participant in class activities and also to feel itself to be a valued member of the class. This is what most teachers would wish but there is plenty of evidence that, in the context of curriculum pressures, large class sizes and the requirements of many assessment procedures, it is difficult to achieve.

For strategies to improve children’s psychological health and foster ‘well-being’, a concept which includes, confidence, empathy, pro-social behaviour, creativity and a sense of achievement, see:

The following are interesting introductions to the notion of emotional literacy. They also provide a useful discussion about managing emotions and building a rapport with children.

For ways to develop the personal and social development of children, including those deemed to be at risk because of their special educational needs, see:

‘Circle of friends’ is a specific tool developed to ensure the social inclusion of children with special needs within their peer group and local mainstream school. It is concerned with what might be termed ‘the social psychology of acceptance’ and how this can be fostered in groups of children. For an introduction, see:

The following books set out some principles and establish frameworks that will offer support to teachers in developing high quality PHSE curriculum to enhance pupils’ personal and social development.

For what are rapidly becoming classics in the field of personal and social education, see:

For a view of how schools should support children and social justice in the context of the National Curriculum and OFSTED see:

Other constructive and stimulating books which will support the development of classroom relationships are:

A book specifically on supporting children’s learning at these times of great pressure on performance, is: