Each class has its own culture. Not always do the rebels, or the clowns, lead. Sometimes, you luck out. The majority want to learn, enjoy your lessons, praise you on teacher reviews, and prove your worth on standardized tests.
I wish all my classes were optimal.
The leaders pull along with the rest with a positive energy. The sloth gets motivated to study. The jabbermouth shuts up and listens. The clown, instead of throwing the class into disarray, shapes up.
In my experience, there isn’t much you can do to form the culture of the class. I’ve had groups that fought me tooth and nail and refused to learn. I’ve had students who have excelled and made me proud. What’s your experience?
Encourage class questions by discouraging making fun of any question. Old adage: The only dumb question is the one that you didn’t ask.
I can still remember the sting of embarrassment: You don’t get it??? The teacher was running a dynamic of repeating a code pattern until students figured it out by themselves. I was the last one. He kept doing it. Kids were rolling their eyes at me. They were groaning. They were taunting me. The teacher had let the activity go to far. It was no longer a turning-on-the-light moment. It was now humiliation.
Since then, I have been keenly aware of students embarrassing their fellows over (what they think are) dumb questions. Education should not be scary. If it is, quite a number will drop out cursing school. Learning needs to be fun, not embarrassing — just because I’m slower than X classmate.
There are teachers who beam with joy over their best student. They wish all their students were like him. They think that their best student is the true reflection of their teaching. They allow others to fall by the wayside because they are a poor reflection. Don’t be like that. Don’t let your pride get wrapped up in one good student. Search for every student to “get it” at whatever pace he can. You’ll find unmotivated students suddenly motivated if you simply have the patience to help them learn. Once they learn, they discover the joy of learning. From then on, it will be easy sailing.