Cultivating an Environment of Trust and Respect

Teachers face many challenges in the classroom on a daily basis, from classroom management to lesson delivery and assessment. Getting students on the same page can be a difficult task indeed, but it is not an impossible one. Cultivating a positive learning environment of mutual respect and trust goes a long way toward getting desired results from your students.

Creating this environment in your classroom is not unattainable, but with all of the daily challenges teachers face, it sometimes becomes difficult to realize that making a few changes can make a world of difference for you and your students. Read on for a few tips on creating the ideal classroom environment for you and your students.

Common Courtesy

Whether you think this is important or not, keep in mind that many students’ parents haven’t devoted much time and effort to help their children develop habits of common courtesy. Saying “please” and “thank you” goes a long way when you want something done. If you are wrong, admit that you are wrong. this helps students to mirror your behavior. This is not to say that you should apologize unnecessarily, but students follow in their teacher’s lead and will be more open to share with you if you are more open with them.

Active Listening

When you ask students questions, listen to their answers. This applies to questions that have a right or wrong answer, as well as the deeper questions you may ask in a classroom discussion. Students are always dropping hints and clues about their lives that teachers often miss. If you want honest feedback about a lesson or classroom activities, ask for anonymous commentary. Naturally, there must be some rules to keep the comments short and relevant, but if you are getting a lot of the same types of comments, listen to what the students are saying and make changes where appropriate.

Open Door Policy

Let students know that you are there for them, both in class and outside of class time. This doesn’t mean that they are your “friends” per se, but allowing them to communicate with you when they feel most comfortable can be an amazing tool in getting more out of your students. If they know that you are there for them, they are more likely to do what you ask of them. Keep the lines of communication open (including email), and see how things change for the better.

Be Flexible

Don’t be a pushover, but be realistic. High school students especially have a very full day, followed by activities after school. Keep in mind that when in college students may have only half the class load that they do in high school. Maximize classroom time and keep homework to a minimum within reason. Don’t overload students if you want to see them succeed. Too much work can result in burnout and reluctance that can affect your entire class. When possible, be willing to work with students regarding homework and give time for projects that will give you higher quality work, rather than a large quantity of activities that simply keep students busy.

This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of How to become a teacher in Texas. She invites your feedback at

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