This module models the UDL Principles of Representation and Action & Expression.

Creating a Welcoming Learning Environment in the Classroom

Through building positive relationships, effective teaching strategies, and conflict resolution


 

Contributing Faculty

Ms. Jennifer Sisk
Department of English
East Carolina University

Introduction

The college classroom is an important place where students and teachers learn and grow together. It is a place where collaboration occurs as well as idea-sharing and relationship-building. Instructors are one of the most influential figures in the classroom, with the ability to enhance the learning environment and influence the behaviors of all present. This module is designed to share ideas about how instructors can create a learning environment that is "welcoming" for students. By "welcoming" we mean a learning environment that considers the diverse range of strengths and approaches to learning on the college campus today and then facilitates interactions and designs instruction in such a way to maximize learning and reduce barriers in the classroom. Three themes are addressed here in relation to creating a welcoming learning environment; the implementation of effective teaching strategies, the development of a positive relationship between students and teachers, and the effective dealing of conflict in the classroom.

Jennifer Sisk, an English instructor at East Carolina University (ECU) in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences instructs first year students in the area of English Composition. She has made it her mission through teaching to show students that she cares about them and their success. She is invested not only in the projects they create, but also in their success in college as a whole. Ms. Sisk understands that students, especially first year students, have a lot on their shoulders, and she wants to insure that students have access to a comfortable and safe learning environment where they gain confidence as students during the learning process.

Jennifer Sisk has developed many ways of making the classroom a welcoming place. One strategy involves taking the time to get to know the learners in her classroom each term. For example, during the first week of class she uses a strategy to learn her student's names, physical characteristics, and personality traits (see how she does this in the Instructional Practice section of this module).

We'd like to hear from you.

What strategies do you use to help you learn students' names?

As the class progresses during the semester, Ms. Sisk spends a great deal of time learning about her students' learning styles and what they are truly passionate about. Many students comment during post-course evaluations that they feel "Ms. Sisk truly cares about them and their education". She makes it her goal to create a level of comfort where her students feel safe and welcome, which she believes helps them learn.

Read more about creating a welcoming learning environment through the development of a positive relationship between students and teachers, the implementation of effective teaching strategies, and the effective resolution of conflict in the classroom in the Instructional Practice section of this module.

Module Format

Each of the College STAR modules includes a concept map, giving readers an overview of the module content. (A concept map represents information or concepts in a graphical format.) The concept maps show the links between the instructional practice in the module, possible outcomes, and, in some cases, the principles of Universal Design for Learning, known as UDL.

Figure 1, the concept map shown below, illustrates the instructional practice in this module, which is designed to share ideas about how instructors can create a learning environment that is "welcoming" for students, which includes and considers the diverse range of strengths and approaches to learning on the college campus today and then facilitates interactions and designs instruction in such a way to maximize learning and reduce barriers in the classroom.

Clicking on the concept map, Figure 1, will enlarge the image.

Concept map presenting an overview of the module content as noted in preceding paragraphs.

Figure 1: Concept Map: Creating a Welcoming Learning Environment in the Classroom

Module Navigation

There are multiple ways to navigate College STAR modules. Clicking on the sidebar menu takes you directly to the main sections and subsections of the module.

Navigation features located at the top and bottom of each screen allow you to move through the module. Clicking on the “breadcrumb trail” at the top of the module screen takes you directly to previously viewed parts of the module, as shown below in Figure 2 in the example from the Charting Student Information module.

Figure 2: A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page. A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page.

The navigation arrows at the bottom of each screen take you to the previous or next components of the module. The menu link at the bottom of each screen takes you to the top of the screen where you may view the menu sidebar as shown in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3: Navigation links are also located at the bottom of each page of a module.

Additionally, some links within the text lead to other sections of the module. Please use your preferred method of navigation to proceed to the next section about Universal Design for Learning (UDL).