Culture often plays a very strong role in people’s lives. Culture has the ability to influence perceptions, influence goals and hopes, and even manage fears and apprehensions. In business, leaders are often encouraged to create core values that form the basis of the culture that will soon emerge. Once the core values are established, it is up to all individuals in an organization (both management and non-management) to continue the growth and development of that culture based on these established values. A culture always arises in an environment, sometimes no culture is the culture. As a professor, your classroom is your business and you are the leader. It’s up to you to lay the foundation and continuously guide the culture.
Here are 5 ways to bring culture into your classroom
1. create core values.
It is up to a professor to create core values. Core values are the foundation of your culture. Adding culture to your classroom can be beneficial for your students, reducing the level of anxiety about asking for help, increasing course recall and peer interactions, and improving content comprehension.
Think of 3-5 qualities that you really value in yourself, the students and the class and start designing your classroom based on those qualities. Do you value punctuality? Do you value willpower? Do you value collaborative work? These are examples of properties that you can customize and convert to base values. Make sure you design your teaching content, attitudes, and interactions around these values. You are a role model for your students and they will follow you. Communicate your values as expectations early on so that students are involved in maintaining and developing this culture right from the start.
2. Make culture an action.
Culture is a continuous activity involving both the professor and the student. The more you can involve students and involve them in the growth of the culture, the more fun and better-connected everyone in the classroom will have.
Take the time to think about how you can get your students to do more while still having fun want to do more. By challenging students to push themselves, you foster critical thinking and encourage them to open their minds.
Here are a few actionable ideas that can add more fun to your classroom culture right now:
· Create a class library where you and your students list must-read books.
· Create a Pinterest board where you and students can add images that represent fun and core values of the classroom throughout the semester.
· If your school allows it and the student agrees, mark a student of the week who met a core value and explain why.
· Have students upload pictures of their family and themselves. Discuss the purpose of embarking on this educational journey.
What three actionable ideas can you add to this list?
3. reward students.
John E. Jones says, “What gets measured gets done; what is measured and reported is done well; what is rewarded is repeated.” By rewarding students, you strengthen their behavior, build their confidence, build a relationship, and take them to the next level. You might not be able to send students a $100 gift certificate every time they get an assignment, but that’s not necessarily how you build classroom culture when it comes to rewarding students anyway.
Taking the time to think about how to increase a student’s opportunities to develop in the classroom is a reward. They go to school to learn, they pay to learn. The more you can improve learning, the more it is a “bonus” or a “reward” for them.
Here are a few rewards you can now add to your classroom:
· Offer students inspirational reading or media such as TedTalks or YouTube videos.
· Create your own media to make content easier to understand.
· Provide detailed text comments and feedback when grading assignments and discussions.
· Provide real-world examples of situations and outcomes.
· Providing resources that the school or communities provide.
· Teach students on the various social media platforms.
· Find ways to connect students’ comments, thoughts and ideas.
· Highlight students who use certain core values.
· Stay up to date on trends, hot topics and technologies to encourage discussion about current events and how to engage them that now.
What reward can you add to this list?
4. Make the student try less.
Of course, a student has to make maximum effort to get this degree. But the path to attaining that degree can be easier if the professor does two things: first, he or she provides a culture that allows students to receive timely communication, and second, he or she knows what a student needs before they get it to know.
First, it is difficult enough for some students to ask a question but not receive an answer or miss a deadline while waiting for an answer, which can cause serious anxiety in a student. This can create a culture of fear, nervousness and disrespect. Second, an experienced professor often knows a student’s question before asking it. This is because most questions tend to be common or related to a specific topic, and this pattern has been noted over the years of teaching.
First, make sure you respond to the student in a timely manner. Check your student emails at least once a day and do your best to set a personal goal and beat the university’s mandated response time. If you have a ask-your-teacher forum in your classroom, check that area of your classroom a few times a day and remember that in this type of forum, other students will see the student’s question and your answer. Never be harsh, condescending, or critical in your response. This can really hurt the confidence of the student who asked the question and increase the anxiety of those reading that section of the classroom.
Second, take a moment to reflect on all the courses you’ve taught. Did each course have a recurring question or theme? Was there a worksheet that several students could never find? Was there a particular section of a task that was always misunderstood? Create an announcement ahead of this week and let students know what to expect or how they can overcome the problem they are facing. This simple change in your culture and practice allows you to focus more on learning and less on smaller everyday tasks.
5. Connect students to a higher purpose.
When we are connected to a higher purpose in life, we are more engaged, happier, and motivated. This higher purpose doesn’t have to be just faith-driven. It’s about connecting people to people and people to resources. A professor can create a culture of connectedness.
Create a culture of connectedness in your classroom by connecting students to each other and to resources inside and outside the institution.
Here are some ways you can now connect students in your classroom:
· Engage them on school social media.
· Educate students about the power LinkedIn can have in terms of networking, credibility, and job hunting.
· Tie together students’ comments and identify common ground.
· Encourage students to share how they overcame specific problems that others in the class may be facing.
· Share websites, blogs and content that might support a particular problem a student is having (this can be done via email and not always in the public forum).
· Write letters of recommendation if your institution allows it.
· Provide students with a list and regularly comment on the various resources offered by the university.
· Encourage students to share their dreams and goals for themselves and their families.
In what ways are you currently connecting your students to a higher purpose?
Thanks to Jaime Kulaga