The idea of building a positive classroom community is extremely popular among ECE professionals and educational theorists since orderly, safe, and inclusive environments promote compassion and concern for the common good. Positive school environments are inclusive, present acceptance as one of their core ideas, and place emphasis on peer collaboration (Van Stone, 2013). All of these components enable teachers to model compassionate behaviors and demonstrate the significance of kind-heartedness and emotional generosity to developing learners. In positive classrooms, participation in activities that encourage students to resolve interpersonal differences and misunderstandings can improve their knowledge of the roles of communication and sharing in human society, thus teaching compassion. At the same time, the creation of positive classroom environments, for instance, by using the YES approach, enables education professionals to teach the art of compromise to children and promote responsible attitudes to animals and others’ property (Weingarten, 2014). These simple but effective disciplinary lessons in learning environments support children’s basic understanding of relational obligations and the community of interest.
Justice is another prominent value that positive classroom communities support and promote by filling in some service gaps and providing children with relevant role models. Some rules of positive classrooms, for instance, inclusion and the avoidance of counterproductive comparisons, encourage teachers to treat all children equally (Van Stone, 2013; Weingarten, 2014). On the one hand, innovative approaches to classroom organization promote justice by providing even the most vulnerable students with opportunities for development. On the other hand, positive environments effectively instill in children the thought that differences should never diminish human worth. For example, teachers deal with vulnerable populations, including those coming from low socio-economic backgrounds, ethnic minorities, and children with disabilities, on a daily basis (“ECE 600 class profile,” n.d.; College of Education, n.d.). By helping these individuals without causing them to experience positive or negative discrimination, educators in positive environments teach justice to children even without using this word.
By teaching children to recognize their strong sides, positive classroom environments can promote healthier psycho-social development, thus preventing low self-esteem later in life. In her TED talk, Pierson (2013) problematizes the lack of positive connections between children and teachers and explains her approach to communicating messages about poor grades to students, in which more attention is paid to correct answers rather than the number of mistakes. As for their potential long-term effects, such approaches to priority-setting can make classroom environments more favorable and conducive to the development of children’s adequate self-esteem and a sense of self-worth despite temporary barriers to personal success (Pierson, 2013). Additionally, by means of self-care promotion techniques, positive environments promote a healthy balance between unsupervised learning and overly controlling teaching styles (Van Stone, 2013; Weingarten, 2014). Due to this balance, the encouragement of initiative and independence becomes possible, which is likely to promote self-efficacy in students.
Appropriate cognitive performance can also be listed among the potential long-term effects of positive environments in educational institutions. One prominent feature of such educational settings is the extensive use of art materials, toys, and learning activities that have been shown to be developmentally appropriate for a particular age group, which involves being closely aligned with the key age-specific learning needs (Weingarten, 2014). In positive educational environments, children are not anticipated to meet elevated or overly relaxed performance expectations, and any standards are informed by activities and tasks that students can actually handle, including necessary accommodations for those with specific barriers to learning (College of Education, n.d.; Weingarten, 2014). Thus, due to the careful selection of tools, performance standards, and teaching plans, positive environments for early learners can promote age-appropriate gradual learning and prevent information overloads at school, which supports timely and optimal cognitive development.
College of Education. (n.d.). Lesson plan template.
ECE 600 class profile. (n.d.).
Pierson, R. (2013). Every child needs a champion [Video]. Web.
Van Stone, B. (2013). Staffroom perspectives: Creating a positive classroom environment. Teach, 11-23.
Weingarten, K. (2014). A YES environment: Promoting positivity in your classroom. Exchange, 48-50.