Saturday, February 25, 2017

What is the climate in your classroom?

Graphic by The Innovative Instructor 

Although February is the shortest month of the year, February usually seems like the longest and snowiest month to live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Schools normally have a day or two off for inclement weather, along with some two-hour delays.  Pittsburghers mostly loathe February.  

But not this year. We have just experienced a weather miracle in Pittsburgh!  For over a week, our daily highs have been between 60 and a record-breaking 76 - which is our average temperature for June 3!  Golf courses are open; the park is full of bicycles and joggers; no one is wearing a light jacket, let alone a winter coat!  And the people are rejuvenated!  Passing strangers make small talk about the weather, and everyone is smiling.  It seems as though the good weather has provided people with a positive attitude adjustment! 

All of this good weather has made me think about classroom weather. Every classroom has a climate, created by the teacher.  It is the teacher who decides upon rain clouds or sunshine; windstorms or beautiful sunsets. Since everyone likes sunny and favorable weather the best, teachers must strive to make their classroom climate welcoming and appealing, and a place where students want to be.

What can teachers do to affect their classroom climates?  Teachers can stand at the door and welcome students as they enter. They can make small talk about the big game, or give a compliment for a new shirt or haircut. Teachers can look students in the eyes, and really listen when a student is talking. Teachers can encourage all students, especially those who seem to have given up.  Teachers can set high standards for students, and applaud their efforts when students meet those expectations.  Teachers can be organized and prepared, have good control, and enjoy a give and take with the class, to make sure everyone feels important.  Teachers can be sure that every learner is included, and provide extra effort to include those who seem to want to be on the periphery. Teachers can get to know their students as people, not just as students, and those positive relationships will make the classroom climate even sunnier.

Teaching is a difficult job, to be sure, as teachers work so hard to meet the needs of every student. I can say for sure, however, that if teachers can create a positive classroom climate, tardiness and absenteeism will diminish, and grades will improve.  I urge all teachers to give a little more effort toward improving the disposition of their classrooms, because when it's sunny in class, the day flies by, and everyone is happier.  

I would love to know your results, should you try to make your classroom even sunnier.  I know the strategies above worked for me for the 37 years I was a classroom teacher.  

Here's to sunshine in your classroom!

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

You can find many strategies for teaching in Dede's book. Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available or on Amazon at 

Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit  

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

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