Does the classroom environment and atmosphere affect the relationships created in the room? This is a question I was left with after being on Pintrest looking up classroom management strategies. My immediate response was no… a classroom that’s plain and standard would not harbour better relationships that one that’s colourful and “funky” (that word just seemed to fit as old school as it is). Do schools with more funding foster better teacher-student relationships?
After reading “Addressing our Needs: Maslow comes to life for Educators and Students” I started to realize how many things actually do affect the relationships that are created in the classroom. In this blog, Dr. Lori Desautels discusses how Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of needs has an impact on the classroom atmosphere and quality of relationships formed. For students to not only build relationships, but also learn, their varying needs must be met first. These needs are put into 5 categories: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, as well as self-actualization. Students need to feel cared for and appreciated for them to trust and give respect. For this to happen, each need must be looked after. Commonly, the people students have the best relationship with are their parents. I think after looking at this article that is because parents are the people who usually look after all of the students’ needs.
So what does this look like in the classroom? These are the suggestions Dr. Desautels provides for each tier:
1. Pysiological- water breaks, focused attention practices, physical surroundings, food, and instrumental music.
2. Safety- attitude, worry drop box, pin-ups (posting compliments or affirmations each day), common experiences
3. Love/belonging- classroom service project, partnered work, celebrations, working together with assigned roles, community circle, and identity (classroom theme, flag, etc.)
4. Esteem- expert day, career day, displaying skills in class
5. Self-actualization- “exploring, modelling, designing, evaluating, and analyzing information outside of their own basic needs, serving others” (Desautels)
I think one of the reasons this article stuck out to me is, because as a pre-service teacher, I often forget my students, like me, are human beings as well. So when I am grumpy because I’m having an off day or am hungry I should remember this could easily be the case for my students to. Until my students’ needs are met, it is unfair of me to expect them to perform their best or get upset when I am unable to form those relationships because of this. From this article I am reminded to look at my students for who they are and not just children I teach. Some students think teachers sleep at school and have no life outside of school; as a future educator, it’s important to not get pulled into the same way of thinking in reverse.