A collection of exercises seeks to help teachers create a strong and supportive classroom atmosphere.
In this education book, Burns (On the Board, 2017, etc.) provides direction for instructors looking to mold a healthy learning environment in the first days of a new class. The activities are intended as icebreakers and introductions to the teacher and classmates, but are also designed to furnish educational value while building the personal bonds that are an important component of the learning process. Each exercise features guidance as to how long it should take, what materials are needed, and what skills students will be employing over the course of the lesson. The strategies are flexible, presented in the context of an English as a second language classroom, but can easily be adapted to other subjects and used with either adult or child students. Some of the lessons (syllabus scavenger hunt, study habit true and false) focus more on setting expectations for the classroom, while others allow students to get acquainted with one another (fun fact memory chain, identity circles) or begin small group work (sorting line, pyramid discussion). Burns reminds teachers that these exercises allow them to learn from their students as well (“If you start using some of those phrases in their native language, students will see that you view them as complex human beings with an identity and culture outside of the classroom”). The book delivers plenty of advice for teachers aiming to implement these tactics in the classroom and includes many sample handouts. With solid pedagogical explanations for the exercises rendered in these pages, Burns offers a worthy professional tool for fellow teachers and supplies insights based on experience (“Even if your class is supposed to be at the same level, they may have different competences in the language needed for this activity”), demonstrating the theoretical and practical concepts addressed in the text.
A useful group of recommended activities, with examples and documents, to assist educators in establishing positive classroom dynamics.