12 WAYS TO CREATE A DEMOCRATIC CLASSROOM
How often do you hear youth say “School is boring” or “I don’t learn anything at school”? Not every student is going to fall in love with every topic presented. But there is a way to make the learning process enjoyable and meet the needs of your students. The good news is: you don’t even have to come up with the ideas yourself! Even with great intentions, it is likely that some students are going to become disengaged with a curriculum that they did not help design. Involving students in their own learning process and giving them a say in the classroom encourages critical thinking. It allows the students to become empowered. It teaches them that they are worthy of being listened to and holds them accountable to good behavior because they designed the rules! Think of it as a community where all are equal, but you as the teacher simply are a resource to facilitate and share information. Let the students tell you how they like to learn, what they want to learn, and how you can improve. When the students generate ideas, it is crucial that you address them. If the idea seems unrealistic, make sure you consider it first, but then at least let the student know why you are unable to incorporate their idea. Praise and encourage each student to share so that they know their ideas are valid and continue to participate. It is also crucial to hold them accountable to the classroom that they create. For example, if they want to do an icebreaker activity before every class, have a new student lead it each day. If they determine a list of agreements that says they will not interrupt one another, and they do, remind them of the list they created. Or, better yet, ask them to evaluate themselves to see if they are sticking to the agreements they created (why or why not?) Here are 12 ways you can create this environment in your classroom. These ideas can be used from kindergarten through college aged students!