Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Classroom Climate - How Students' Perceptions Will Guide My Progress as a Teacher

Eighteen months ago (!), I wrote a blog post about classroom climate, which was essentially comparing my perceptions of my class with my students' perceptions of the class. This information was then used to adjust my teaching for that specific class.

I have continued to use the survey to adjust my teaching in my new school this year.

The graph above shows my end of year survey that I conducted with one of my classes and I will be using it to set my own teaching targets for next year. Although I won't be teaching all of this class next year, I feel that the teaching and learning that went on in that classroom was typical of my teaching and I didn't want to set my targets upon on average of all of my classes put together.

These questions were based on Professor Daniel Muijs and David Reynolds' research on classroom climate and effective teacher behaviours which are listed below. All go towards creating an effective classroom climate. Generally, all teachers should be aiming for as low a score as possible (the questions where this is perhaps debatable are highlighted below, but that is a whole other discussion!)

  1. How fairly are students treated in the classroom?
  2. Do students learn interesting things?
  3. Do students behave in class?
  4. Do students work in groups?
  5. Do students find what they learn interesting?
  6. Are students expected to get the work done?
  7. How difficult is it for students to say they don’t understand?
  8. How clear is it to students that the lesson relates to prior learning?
  9. How neat and tidy is the classroom?
  10. Do the students only get blamed when they have done something wrong?
  11. Does learning seem fun in the classroom?
  12. Do students pay attention in the class?
  13. How clear are students on what they should have learned?
  14. Do students damage each other’s things?
  15. How easy is it to get excellent marks in the class?
  16. Are students encouraged to help each other?
  17. How clear are students on what they will be tested on?
  18. What condition is the classroom kept in?
  19. How fairly is work marked?
  20. Do students get excited about what they are learning?
  21. Do students speak when they should do in the classroom?
  22. Are students allowed to discuss things in the classroom?
  23. Do students hurt each other after class?
  24. Are students expected to do their best on tests?
  25. Are students encouraged to try again if things don’t work?
  26. Do students get a chance to present in class?
  27. Does the classroom always have fresh air?
  28. Do students only get praise when they deserve it?
  29. Are students encouraged to say what they think?
  30. Are students expected to try really hard in the lesson?

If I analyse the data from my responses, the average positive differences (of over 2) between my and the students' perceptions of the climate were in questions 5, 11, 12, 13, 17, 21. This tells me that these things are better than I thought!

My pessimistic personality is perhaps shown that there were no negative average differences of over 2. However, I want to set my targets based upon what my students' perceptions say about the classroom climate so what did we both judge as being as being quite poor on the scale?

Target 1 - Do Students Get a Chance to Present in Class?

Although I also judged this to be poor in my classroom (5), my class judged this to be 3.4. There are probably some educators out there who would judge this to be a non-essential in the classroom, but I feel that it is a skill which every young person needs to develop so I will be doing my utmost to ensure that there are regular opportunities for my classes to present to each other in the classroom next year.

Target 2 - How Easy Is It to Get Excellent Marks in the Class?

For this question, I judged myself to be 3 and was rated 3.1. The problem with this question is that I feel that it isn't worded perfectly. To score 1, the student perception would be that 'it is easy to get excellent marks' and to score 6 the student perception would be that 'it is difficult get excellent marks'. This could be judged by the student to mean 'it is easy to get excellent marks because the work is far too easy for me', or it could be judged by the student to mean 'it is easy to get excellent marks because of the work that the teacher does to help me get there. 

However, I am going to set another target for my teaching to ensure that students feel like it is possible for them all to obtain excellent marks if they work hard. I will be trying to implement more strategies that will promote a Growth Mindset culture in the classroom.

Target 3 - Do Students Find What They Are Learning Interesting?

For this question, I judged myself to be 5 and was rated 3.1. This was one of the questions which I highlighted above as debatable which side of the scale was positive. On one side of the scale is 'students find what they learn interesting' and on the other 'students find what they learn boring'. This makes me think that this should be one of my targets. I don't want my students to find everything that they learn to be boring. Some things are out of my control, especially with the changes in set texts, but I believe that, in order to foster a love for learning and specifically a love for English, I need to make the lessons more consistently interesting.

As can be seen in the graph above, there were other questions where I scored below 3 by my students ('do students work in groups?'; 'do students get excited about what they are learning?'; 'does the classroom always have fresh air?'), but I've decided to focus on those targets next year to try and improve my students' perceptions of the classroom climate.


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  2. Great Job! I agree with your statement, Teacher must care and let them speaking in the class when they need to something understand. Through this students can never get rid of with their studies and bored. Thanks for sharing this. Another technique for student help go here