Reducing Classroom Friction


Classroom Tips
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Classroom Tips
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It used to be that teachers were told not to crack a smile before Easter. Fortunately, that’s no longer how we see it. Children have plenty of learning to do but they are also more aware of social queues than some give them credit for. Because of this, it is important that we realise students will respond to harshness and unfairness with the same, and that’s not going to help facilitate a classroom that’s easy to learn in.

In order to achieve our main aim: learning; we need to get to a point where we can build rapport with our students. And to be in a place to build rapport we need to make sure all friction that can be eliminated is eliminated. The best approach in our view? As the saying goes ‘you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.’

So, let’s look at a few tips for reducing friction in the classroom.

#1 – Fake it til you make it

We’ve all experienced times when our internal emotions don’t match whatever external task we’re facing at the time, and the same is true for teachers.

How we show up in the mornings in front of the class can affect the response we get from our students. Showing up moody, lacking confidence, distracted and/or angry can often be met with less desirable responses. On the flipside, smiling is contagious and pleasantness usually begets pleasantness.

A psychologist once explained to me that the power is not necessarily with ‘positive thinking’ but rather ‘positive doing’. As you act out the confidence and calmness you want to evoke, you will find it comes easier for you too.

#2 – Reign in overexcitement

Excitement is generally a positive emotion and at high energy activities, it can be harnessed as a great motivator. Unfortunately, excitement can also be a double-edged sword – robbing a student of focus in times where more quiet, thoughtful work is required.

For example, an excited child will often raise their voice, speed up their talking and begin nagging when the energy level doesn’t match. By maintaining your own calm, measured manner you can help students to work on the most important skill they need to master, controlling their own emotions.

#3 – Happiness

In every job, there are some workers who have outstayed their desire to work there. Having a negative frame of reference towards your job is a guaranteed positivity killer – not just your own positivity, but that of your students too.

Seek to manage your own happiness outside of work so you can draw on a well of motivation for your role and don’t forget, teaching is a pretty good job compared to the alternatives.

#4 – Create Community

By addressing your students’ need for belonging you can help remove a lot of the stress that can lead to friction. The classroom is a great place to build a sense of community where everyone is joined by the common aim of learning.

One great way to foster this feeling is by setting joint goals for the group and celebrating together when achievements are reached. Another way is creating shared stories, perhaps by referring to past school occasions or anecdotes that the students can all relate to, or even referring to amusing moments earlier in your day. Laughter is a great way to bring the group together.

#5 – Watch your language

As every teacher should well know, it is important to be sensitive to the things you say around your class – students can easily be swayed to your negative views on something if they notice you complaining or ranting. As protection for both yourself and the students, always be mindful not to let your emotions overrule your rationality and control your speech to influence the students.


So in summary, three key take-aways to remember:
  • pleasantness grows more pleasantness
  • try and leave your negative emotions to one side
  • focus on using the way you present your class as a tool to influence them to learn.
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Part 2: Leading Staff

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