How Joyful Is Your Classroom?

Five young friends jumping outdoors smiling

1. I smile and show enthusiasm for the students, the subject and learning.

Always                               Sometimes                                 Hardly ever

2. I create a safe space for students to take intellectual risks. Incorrect answers are explored with interest. All responses are pushed for depth and refinement. It is not ok to laugh at others’ responses.

Always                               Sometimes                                 Hardly ever

3. I use engaging activities such as games, projects, manipulatives, meaningful and thought-provoking discussions.

Always                               Sometimes                                 Hardly ever

4. I build positive relationships with each of my students.

Always                               Sometimes                                 Hardly ever

5. I foster positive relationships among students.

Always                               Sometimes                                 Hardly ever

6. We have specific ways to celebrate progress and growth. Click here for a resource.

Always                               Sometimes                                 Hardly ever


(Whispering) Friends, come closer. We need to talk about something important and a bit personal. It’s not always comfortable but it must be done…

If you’re a human you probably have differing expectations about your students’ abilities. Don’t fret. There are research-proven strategies to help us get better.

1. Become aware of your differing expectations. The sample chart below from Marzano’s Art and Science of Teaching might be a useful tool.

Student Name My Behavior That Deals with Affective Tone My Behavior Regarding Quality of Interactions


I notice I never kid around with Andre. I typically never call on him unless he raises his hand.
Sarah I don’t notice anything different with my tone toward Sarah.


I think I might be avoiding interaction with her.

2. Once you’ve identified what Marzano calls “low-expectancy students” (and here we like to note that maybe it’s not just you or even you but perhaps parents, other teachers, other students and even the student him or herself who have low expectations) it’s time to take action. These small actions have been shown to make a huge difference in over four decades of research.

  • Seat them closer to you.
  • Make an effort to smile at them more.
  • Look them in the eye more.
  • Lean toward them more.
  • Be generally more friendly and supportive.
  • Call on them more often.
  • Ask them challenging questions.
  • Delve into their answers deeply.
  • Reward them only for rigorous responses.

Try this out and let us know how it goes! Keep making each of them feel special.





Categories: Stage 2: Joyful and Efficient

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. Based on this brief assessment – my classroom is joyful but there is always room for more joy in this world! Thanks for such a wonderful article and for sharing comprehensive resources to support the learning!

    Karen Wester


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