Creating a more civil classroom environment

As the architect of your environment, it’s the job of the teacher to ensure all students have the opportunity to learn in a civil classroom environment. There are many factors that make accomplishing a civil classroom environment very challenging. Perhaps, students will have to unlearn some poor habits in order to contribute to the environment you are hoping to create. For the sake of all students, your effort in this area is absolutely essential.

I recently came across the work of The Civility Project out of Minnesota. Their goal was to help usher in a more civil discourse in our political debates (A large goal indeed). Local government and business leaders worked together to identify 9 key principles that can lead to more civility. I am sharing them with you because I absolutely believe they relate to the classroom. These principles can help you to create a positive learning environment for all. Also, students will grow and learn as a result of their interactions with each other. Here are the principles:

Pay Attention.

Be aware and attend to the world and the people around you.


Focus on others in order to better understand their points of view.

Be Inclusive.

Welcome all groups of citizens working for the greater good of the community.

Don’t Gossip.

And don’t accept when others choose to do so.

Show Respect.

Honor other people and their opinions, especially in the midst of disagreement.

Be Agreeable.

Look for opportunities to agree; don’t contradict just to do so.


Be sincere and repair damaged relationships.

Give Constructive Criticism.

When disagreeing, stick to the issues and don’t make a personal attack.

Take Responsibility.

Don’t shift responsibility and blame onto others; share disagreements publicly.

Click HERE to check out the full article by Richard Bowman on how to teach civility.


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