Building a Positive Classroom Culture

Establishing a positive classroom culture can be a tricky endeavor.  You want your classroom to be a warm and inviting place for students to feel welcome and for learning to feel enjoyable, but at the same time you need to create a level of respect and a certain understanding that you are in charge when it comes to your classroom and the conduct that will be tolerated while within its four walls.

Even before day one I try to establish a positive classroom culture by reaching out to my students via postcard, welcoming them to the school year and introducing them to some of what they will be seeing over the next few days.  I find that it takes the edge off the first day and helps to ease the nerves when they know what to expect and they know what their teacher is going to look like ahead of time.

I also like to welcome my students on the first day with a little treat which they find at their desk as they enter the room.  It may seem a bit elementary, but I find that even my big kids like a treat and a little recognition that the first day is a tumultuous day for everyone involved.

Once the year gets underway, I prefer to rely on a reward based system to get the desired behaviors I wish to see in my classroom.  Reward cards provide a great incentive to my students to behave properly and they don't cost me a penny.

Another tactic I like to employ is that which I call the "Hot Seat".  The Hot Seat takes about 5 minutes out of your day, but is well worth it in the end.  Each week I pick one student to sit in the hot seat, while their classmates each get a strip of colored paper.  While their classmate sits in the hot seat for 5 minutes, the rest of the class is given the task of writing down positive comments they enjoy about their fellow classmate.  I then take these strips, double check them just in case, and bind them for the students as an end of year gift.  It's one that most students keep and cherish for years to come.

Another item I like to use throughout the school year is my "Pat on the Back".  These simple hand prints allow students to thank one another, staff members, or anyone they choose, thus leading to a more positive atmosphere within the classroom and school.  I then share them and hang them up in my room for all to see.  You can get your own copy here.

Finally, as we round out the year, I love to reward the character I have seen displayed by my students throughout the school year, so rather than give GPA or Honor Roll certificates, I give character awards.  It's easy to identify a character trait or two that each student has personified during our time together, so I celebrate those moments that really stood out to me, usually shed some tears, and wish them the very best as they head off onto their next endeavor.

Hopefully I've provided you with some ideas that you can add to your classroom repertoire as you get ready for another fabulous year with your students.  Remember, your classroom culture is all up to you and how you decide to address it, so make it a positive one.

Thank you to Desktop Learning and Darlene Anne for hosting this wonderful blog hop.  If you want more ideas and ways to build a positive culture, check out the other blogs below.


  1. Wow! These are all awesome ideas, Brittany! I love the hot seat, pat on the back and passes. They're great for any grade level. Thanks for sharing!

  2. So many clever ideas! I'm really impressed that you send a postcard home even before the first day of class!

  3. Love these ideas! I'm especially nuts about the "Hot Seat!" What a wonderful way to build a positive classroom community!

  4. This is great practical advice, Brittany. I am intrigued by the post card, and I love all of your positive rewards. Students are never too old for candy or compliments! Thanks for all of the fantastic ideas!

  5. I LOVE the "Pat on the Back" - just what I needed for my 6th graders. Thanks!! :)

  6. Wow, these are great ideas. I think I could steal a few of them from you for my high school students. I like to hand out "virtual birthday cake" when my student has a birthday during the school week. They feel special.

  7. Very creative ideas. Thanks for sharing.