This approach to Classroom climate is tops!

Crissy Calera
Grade 6 Humanities Teacher
Abu Dubai

 I have been teaching since 1994 and have been intentional about classroom climate that entire time, however the ideas that you encapsulate in ACEs really get at the heart of what most teachers are trying to achieve.  I want to make sure that new teachers see this.  Also, while you teach 6th grade, this feels right for high school as well.  I wonder (see what I did there) if people in this community have examples of how the do each of these elements of the classroom.  

Top Replies

  • What a great use of KWL charts! I love the idea of making the connection between past and present in this way.  This last year for our district focused on a year of purpose, The intention was to highlights…

  • Great share. This really has me thinking. I teach 9th (Big History Project) and 10th grade (World History Project) and  's approach has a lot more intentionality to it compared to how I…

  • I also teach 6th grade, and I love how you connect ancient history to students' daily lives.  I'd love to hear more about your lesson on stone-age technology and Apple.

  • I am a new teacher heading into my 3rd year of teaching 6th grade social studies (ancient civilizations). I have just recently stumbled upon OER and your videos/guidance. I really appreciate your perspective and I have learned so much from just the two videos of yours that I have watched. Thank you! Could you share any more of the stories that you use in your social studies classroom to help instill empathy/compassion in your students and help students make relevant connections to the content?

  • Hi Caroline! Thank you for your kind words. 

    As far as stories to instill empathy/compassion, a lot of what I do is simply getting students to understand that every person in our classroom (and every person they encounter) has a totally unique life experience, and that we need to be sensitive to that. 

    Quick example - several of my students were talking about times they were sick or in the hospital. One student shared how she'd had pneumonia when she was younger, and while in the hospital, was so spoiled by family and the hospital staff. At the end of her story, she said, "Yeah, pneumonia is awesome!" I quickly, and gently, responded with, "P, please be careful with what you say. While your experience with pneumonia was great because you were young and healthy, it can be a serious illness and people die from it. You don't know if someone in this room has lost a loved one to pneumonia. Try and be sensitive to comments like that." I assured her she hadn't done anything wrong and that she wasn't in trouble, but I encouraged her to think outside herself for a second in moments like that. I've had lots of similar conversations with students over the years.

    Another way I instill empathy is constantly reiterating to my students that they all have a story, and that every story is valuable. I model this in the way I listen to my students and get them to listen to each other. 

    When encountering the curriculum, I always present multiple viewpoints of the same event/aspect, and give my students time to imagine being in a particular situation, and how they'd react. I also give students a lot of time to share their personal experiences that relate to our content. When reading The Breadwinner this year, it was incredible how many students shared personal stories of their families, often grandparents and parents, who had to flee their home country because of war.

    Sorry for the long response, but I hope that helps!