What is the classroom culture you'd like to promote?

Posted April 17, 2017 by ilee

Reflect on the classroom culture you would like to promote in your classroom. Describe it and then reflect on some barriers you anticipate running into.

Post your thoughts to the forum below, and come back later to read other entries and comment on another teacher's response.


Submitted by eso on Fri, 06/02/2017 - 23:56 · Permalink

First and foremost, I've always wanted to promote a classroom culture of empathy. I think that looking at empathy in the context of computer programming is great because if all of the scholars are working on a similar project, they can very easily relate to their peers who are experiencing very similar challenges. 

I can already anticipate some teasing and taunting of others who take their time writing code or have a hard time understanding the syntax, but I plan to use the prior experience as an anchor phenomena to help scholars relate. It is possible that some students feel like coding is easy and don't experience struggle to the same degree that others do so I would have to be extra vigilant about those individuals' attitudes toward others seeking help. 

I would additionally promote persistence and growth mindset. All of these are qualities that I hope to instill in my scholars as they continue on in their educational, and eventually professional, careers. I like the idea of breaking down a large, daunting task into smaller, more achievable steps to promote confidence and a sense of accomplishment. This could be a strategy to help struggling scholars work through their struggles. 

Submitted by ilee on Tue, 06/06/2017 - 12:38 · Permalink

responding to eso...

Hi Eso,

We suggest using a pair programming method in which students take turns being either the driver or navigator.  This really makes developing and debugging models (programs) a shared activity and we have not witnessed teasing or taunting behavior.

I'd love to find out if others have dealt with students teasing and taunting behavior when engaged in programming activities and how they responded.

Hi, Eso!  I think you are on the right track, using pair programming and promoting persistence and growth mindset.  In my experience, as long as pairs are created thoughtfully, students become really supportive of each other and I have seen little teasing or taunting.  One other thing I would recommend to prevent teasing, taunting, or frustration with those who finish early is really stressing the use of the progress monitors (lists of small tasks within the larger project, usually presented as a checklist) and bonus tasks.  Giving the "advanced" kids tasks to do straight off the bat when they finish early can prevent them and others from even noticing who is finished early and who is still working on the first tasks.  Zone of proximity in grouping become particularly important--we don't want to pair students of vastly different ability levels, and the same is true within larger groups.  I am by no means promoting ability-level grouping, but have definitely seen a benefit when students are partnered with someone who is a reasonable amount more or less advanced than themselves.  

Lastly, many teachers (myself included!) have found cooperative learning structures and team-building very valuable in building a culture of empathy.  Kagan has a lot of cooperative learning strategies that can double as teambuilders, too, but any web search of classroom teambuilders will yield a bounty of fun results.

Sounds like your students are going to have a blast with Project GUTS and I can't wait to hear about your experiences!

Submitted by Bright_Eyed_Science on Thu, 06/08/2017 - 18:53 · Permalink

I would like to create a classroom culture with the abundance mentality where students freely share their knowledge, experience, and ideas, and place value on their own personal development/growth rather than comparing themselves to their peers. I try to follow Anne Tweed's "Characteristics of Effective Science Lessons: Quality of Classroom Culture" in Designing Effective Science Instruction: What Works in Science Classrooms

  • Climate of respect for students' ideas, questions, and contributions is evident.
  • Active participation of all is encouraged and valued.
  • Interactions reflect working relationship between teacher and students.
  • Interactions reflect working relationships among students.
  • Climate encourages students to generate ideas and questions.
  • Intellectual rigor, constructive criticism, and challenging of ideas are evident.


The roadblocks that I continue to struggle with and anticipate encountering are:

  • getting students to understand that mistakes are an integral part of learning,
  • getting parents to stop (overtly or otherwise) impressing on their students that the material/skill is too difficult,
  • getting parents and myself to believe that we do not need to be experts in the material/skill in order to foster student learning,
  • becoming comfortable with being outside of my own comfort zone,
  • creating lesson timelines far enough in advance to accurately schedule computer lab use, and
  • developing effective assessment, classroom and behavior management strategies.

Submitted by jsimpson on Fri, 06/09/2017 - 15:42 · Permalink

Reflect on the classroom culture you would like to promote in your classroom. Describe it and then reflect on some barriers you anticipate running into.

I want to create a classroom culture where the students are their own best resources, where they look to each other for help and guidance.  

I want my students to be the thinkers and not just look to me the teacher or each other for the answers, but use each other to foster understanding.  

I want my students to fail early and often and learn from those experiences to grow and to take risks without feeling judged (Growth Mindset).

I want my students to feel good about coming to class and to laugh and explore their world.

I want the parents of my students to understand that failure is an option and that it is ok for their children to struggle to learn.  I want them to understand it takes persistence and determination; there might be no easy answer and definitely that they might not be able to help their child because they don't know how to do it:)

Some of the possible barriers is that this is a mindset shift for all involved.  We have been doing education to children for a long time.  Persistence will be something that children will struggle with.  I also think of my students who get school, they aren't comfortable with struggle.  

Submitted by jgurbada on Tue, 06/13/2017 - 18:28 · Permalink

I would like to promote a classroom culture of constant communication and willingness to fail. I anticipate running into a few problems: teasing for having incorrect code, no talking in class due to fear of failure, too much off-topic talking in class, etc. To help combat a few of these barriers, I will try to help my students have a growth mindset and internalize the idea that failing does not mean you are a failure. 

Submitted by llegault on Wed, 06/14/2017 - 11:42 · Permalink

I would like to promote a growth mindset culture where my students consistently attempt to solve problems rather than being satisfied with a grade and then moving on to the next test. Our school has adopted growth mindset as our goal for next year, and we are actively working to involve our parents and students. I also hope that all my students will work together to solve problems. One challenge I expect to address will be changing student and parent attitudes from grades to growth.  I think this may take the school year to accomplish because it is different from what my students expect. I  will have to change my methods of assessment as well.  Grades are still expected in my school, so how I fairly assess while promoting growth will be something I will have to develop. I look forward to incorporating what I learn from this class into this growth mindset.

Submitted by hjoyal on Tue, 06/27/2017 - 17:51 · Permalink

I really try very hard in the classroom to be the guide on the side through design and the engineering process. I hope that this translates to computer modeling and programming. It is definitely an area where my old age shows up and leaves me in a state of disequilibrium, but I need to breathe and realize that is just fine. That is how the kids feel everyday when confronted with new stuff that I have mastered long ago. That feeling of not knowing can be alien to us as teachers and we can avoid things that make us feel less. Trust in the kids in the classroom to be part of the guides in the learning process and celebrate when successes come from all people in the community of my classroom. 

Submitted by bonitagirl on Mon, 07/17/2017 - 22:10 · Permalink

I would like to have an atmosphere of "its ok to make mistakes" in my classroom. Many of my past students didn't like to make mistakes. Code is very forgiving. It's all in what you tell it to do. I want to have my students understand that they have to go back and look things over. Collaborating is another tool I would like my students to do. I want them to be able to ask each other about what they are doing or if they are having issues. One person does not have all the answers. We are always learning.

Submitted by jfretz on Fri, 07/28/2017 - 20:29 · Permalink

The classroom culture I would like to promote centers on student empowerment and initiative.  Students should feel that they control their journey to success, and should be motivated to work towards defined goals.  Toward this end, it is vital that students have a safe place in which to fail.  Instead of being a source of embarrassment, failure should be viewed as an important step in accomplishing their goals.  I feel that focusing on the positive (the lesson that was learned) instead of the negative (the lack of immediate success) will make failing more productive.  When students view failure as just another leaning experience, they are more likely to take risks and experiment with novel ideas and solutions.  They are also more likely to persist when they encounter difficult situations.  One barrier I anticipate  is building this persistence, and helping students see the benefits in long-term vs. short-term gratification.  Another barrier I anticipate is holding students accountable for their efforts, especially when there may not be an easily assessed daily progress measure.

Submitted by person11d on Fri, 08/04/2017 - 23:42 · Permalink

The culture I plan to implement into my classroom is one of community and independence. I want my students to feel comfortable to try new things even if that means making errors. I will encourage my students to embrace a patient learning environment as sometimes our challenges can create frustration. At the same time, I want my students to ask for help and learn from each other. I know there are barriers involved with reaching the ideal expectation, one being students not dealing well with frustration. I am teaching 8th grade and I anticipate I may need to help students develop their self-regulation when it comes to providing them with valuable and challenging experiences. 

Submitted by jstblue on Sun, 08/27/2017 - 15:19 · Permalink

I would like to promote, growing through epic fail, which is my theme this year.  I want my students to see each other as resources and that we are in it to win it.  The "win it" is deep learning that can be applied across content areas and in life.  My classroom will be a safe place of mutual respect and kind dialogue. As I am at a new school this year, I am anticipating many organizational obstacles including behavioral management and tech management.  I'm still learning what kinds of technology are available to students and teachers.  

Submitted by kpatcox on Thu, 06/20/2019 - 11:36 · Permalink

I would really like to incorporate an idea of failure in my classroom. I know that sounds a bit strange, but students, in my opinion, need to fail in order to really succeed. Without failure, growth isn't seen as much.  Without failure, students will be afraid to try new things in their life. Failure is a skill that needs to be taught and persistence directly follows.

Submitted by Shelli915 on Thu, 06/04/2020 - 19:00 · Permalink

I want to create a Classroom culture that values every student's ideas, knowledge, input and ability.  A place where all can feel accepted at their level and be supported in their growth much like we as adults do for each other.  I want them to learn that mistakes are not failures but opportunities to grow.  They also need to know that the computer is only as smart as its programs.  The code is what runs it.  The code can be fixed or improved.  

Submitted by wssmith on Tue, 07/21/2020 - 17:16 · Permalink

I like to promote a safe culture where students are willing to test their predictions and ideas without looking or feeling inadequate. The challenge with this often arises because some students lack the maturity or discipline that keeps them from scoffing or making fun of others' efforts or ideas.

Submitted by ladams1954 on Tue, 07/21/2020 - 23:22 · Permalink

I would like to see my students develop an attitude of persistence and tenacity.  So often I see students give up if a task is a challenge or if it requires more effort than they are used to bringing to their work.  Often, they want to have instant results and quick solutions.  Realizing that learning (particularly about complex systems)  can be very difficult and that failure happens to everyone is a start.  I think the use of the CS model building and use offers an opportunity for classes to look at serious problems, feel some frustration and finally to gain real satisfaction of accomplishment.  Instilling the idea that you just have to keep on trying/experimenting/collaborating...not giving up... is huge and can impact their lives in all areas.

Submitted by bnallen on Wed, 07/22/2020 - 08:49 · Permalink

I want to create a culture that is a fun learning environment. I want this environment to foster the ability to persevere as well as allowing students to make mistakes without fear of failure. I want students to be able to experiment, but understand that just because their experiment did not turn out the way they wanted, does not mean that it is wrong. This is a wonderful way to build confidence within a safe space so that when students enter the real world, they can apply those skills to their work or just in their lives in general. When life doesn't go the way they have planned, they can always take a step back and look at it from a different perspective. Failures don't always have to be bad, but can lead to much better things in both science and life. 

Submitted by lbshrode on Wed, 07/22/2020 - 09:56 · Permalink

I want to create a classroom culture where students have fun learning about science.  Having fun means that they feel safe to ask questions and share their ideas with others.  Students have a place to embrace who they are and how they learn.  They know their strengths and use them to participate in group projects and activities. 

Submitted by ShannonMahoney on Thu, 08/13/2020 - 19:46 · Permalink

In reply to kpatcox:

I think failure is important for a student to learn.  I always talk to my students about productive struggle.  Not everything in life will easy and its okay to struggle and maybe not have the answers.  Its only from struggle and failure do we grow.

Submitted by DanielleMcL15 on Thu, 08/13/2020 - 20:54 · Permalink

In my new STEM role (former science only) I am striving to create a class culture of curiosity, experimentation, problem-solving, acceptance, accountability, and grit. I want my students to feel safe and empowered to take chances and ask questions. Some barriers that I anticipate are the lack of student accountability in the culture of the school overall, students' "giving up" when things get challenging, students' doing things "to get them done" instead of learn or experience something new, and lack of resources and/or time.