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.
- Roberts. R. (2002) Self-esteem and Early Years, London: Paul Chapman.
- Lawrence, D. (1996) Enhancing Self-Esteem in the Classroom, London: Paul Chapman. (Reading, 6.6)
- Cranfield, J. and Wells, H. (1976) 100 Ways to Enhance Self-concept in the Classroom, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
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:
- Roberts, R. (2002) Self-Esteem and Early Learning, London: Sage.
- Buchanan, A. and Hudson, B. (2000) Promoting Children’s Emotional Well-being, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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.
- Weare, K. (2003) Developing the Emotionally Literate School, London: Paul Chapman Publishing.
- Sharp, P. (2001) Nurturing Emotional Literacy: A Practical Guide for Teachers, Parents and Those in the Caring Professions, London: David Fulton.
- Bocchino, R. (1999) Emotional Literacy: To Be a Different Kind of Smart, London: Sage & Corwin Press.
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:
- Dowling, M. (2000) Young Children’s Personal Social and Emotional Development, London: Paul Chapman.
- Webster-Stratton, C. (1999) How to Promote Children’s Social and Emotional Competence, London: Paul Chapman.
‘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:
- Newton, C., Taylor, G. and Wilson, D. (1996) ‘Circle of Friends, An Inclusive Approach to Meeting Emotional and Behavioural Needs’ Educational Psychology in Practice, Vol 11, (4) pp 41-48.
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.
- Claire, H. (2001) Not Aliens: Primary School Children and the Citizenship/PHSE Curriculum, London: Trentham.
- Inman, S., Buck, M. and Tandy, M. (2001) Enhancing Personal, Social and Health Education: A Framework for Learning, London: RoutledgeFalmer.
- Best, R. (ed) (2000) Education for Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development, London: Continuum.
For what are rapidly becoming classics in the field of personal and social education, see:
- Lang, P. (ed) (1988) Thinking About Personal and Social Education in the Primary School, Oxford: Blackwell.
- Pring, R. (1984) Personal and Social Education in the Curriculum, London: Hodder & Stoughton.
For a view of how schools should support children and social justice in the context of the National Curriculum and OFSTED see:
- Cotton, T., Hassan, A. and Nickolay, S. (2003) Improving Primary Schools: Improving Communities, Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.
- Inman, S. and Buck, M. (1995) Adding Value: Schools’ Responsibility for Pupils’ Personal Development, Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.
Other constructive and stimulating books which will support the development of classroom relationships are:
- MacGrath, M. (2000) The Art of Peaceful Teaching in the Primary School: Improving Behaviour and Preserving Motivation, London: David Fulton.
- Prosser, J. (ed) (1999) School Culture, London: Paul Chapman.
- Humphreys, T. (1995) A Different Kind of Teacher, London: Cassell.
- Noddings, N. (1992) The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education, London: Teachers College Press.
- Putnam, J. and Burke, J. B. (1992) Organising and Managing Classroom Learning Communities, New York: McGraw Hill.
- Ingram, J. and Worrall, N. (1993) Teacher-Child Partnership: The Negotiating Classroom, London: David Fulton.
- Hargreaves, A. (1998) The Emotional Practice of Teaching in Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol. 14, No. 8, pp 835 - 854.
- Orlick, T. (1979) Cooperative Sports and Games Book: Challenge without Competition, London: Writers & Readers.
- Prutzman, P., Burger, M. L., Bodenhamer, G. and Stern, L. (1978) The Friendly Classroom for a Small Planet, New Jersey: Avery Publishing.
A book specifically on supporting children’s learning at these times of great pressure on performance, is:
- Decker, S., Kirby, S., Greenwood, A. and Moore, D. (1999) Taking Children Seriously: Applications of Counselling and Therapy, London: Continuum.