School starts back next week, and I've been giving a lot of thought to how I'm going to create a positive classroom climate in my middle school French Immersion class. This year, I'm changing grades, so my practices and routines seemed to call for an especially thorough auditing.
Right from the first day of school, I plan to reward risk taking, model it, and to do whatever I can to keep the classroom a positive and safe space for my students. No put downs is a given, but especially important in a second language learning environment. Part of my beginning of the year speech will be about not making fun of people for trying, learning by doing, and the importance of practice. We will talk about the role of student talk time in the target language, and about how everyone needs to move forward from where they are according to their own goals and needs.
I've been intrigued by the idea of classroom meetings for some time now, but haven't really been sure how that would work in my grade 8 homeroom. Since I'm moving to grade 6 this year I think I'm ready to give it a go. The ideas in this document about Discussion Guidelines are great. Once a week (maybe even every second week, during those busy periods of the year) should be enough and I'm really looking forward to trying this out. I would love to hear from you if you have experiences to share from a similar grade, and especially with a French Immersion class.
Be sure to check out some of the other awesome blog posts below on setting our students up for learning through a positive classroom culture as well! I especially love the one called "The Fridge" by a high school math teacher, since this past year my students wanted to know how to say that their work was "fridge-worthy" en français. (What do you think? I offer "Celui en vaut le frigo", "Digne d'afficher" or "Digne d'exhiber" as possible bulletin board titles and terms to share with families.)