Creating a positive, safe and respectful learning environment might be, in my opinion, the most important first step. Giving students a sense of community within the classroom can help build self-esteem and promote self-efficacy, commonly defined as the belief in one’s capabilities to achieve a goal or an outcome. Positive support from the instructor and classmates can be crucial for a student to succeed. More on Self-Efficacy:
I have learned some valuable ideas from this article on a supportive learning environment and I plan to put them into practice in my classroom. I really like the idea of promoting a strong classroom community by intentionally building networks and supportive relationships right from the first day of class. Pairing up students or using small groups and even entire class activities right away to promote interaction between students and instructor to form connections and achieve a feeling of comfort.
For myself as a potential carpentry instructor I may have a class of apprentices with a variety of different work related backgrounds. Also, carpentry courses tend to be only six weeks long so the turn over of new students is high. It would greatly benefit myself and my students to start each course session with introductions where students could talk about their related background and discuss which type of carpentry they would like to specialize in. This would work as an initial ice breaker and quick insight into each students history with the aim to build on the class communication through the entire course.
Another idea discussed is connecting students with the greater community via field trips, guest speakers and current event discussions. Taking class trips to different types of job sites from residential to heavy industrial would be a good way to do this and may help the student relate to each others different backgrounds. Perhaps taking a tour of a lumber mill to see how wood is processed to open up the discussion of efficiency in material usage. Having local building inspectors speak to the class with a question and answer period could be good practice in building confidence and communication with municipal representatives.
These are just a few practical examples to encourage a supportive learning environment but there are endless ways to keep the classroom positive. As an Instructor it will be my duty to provide a welcome, encouraging and positive learning environment that will motivate students and help build the confidence they need to be successful.