How to build a positive classroom culture in elementary school

As the new school year is starting it’s a great time to prepare and examine the type of classroom you want to cultivate this year! Building a positive classroom culture is a great way to help your young learners grow while also emphasizing respect, kindness, collaboration, and a growth-mindset among your students.

Ready to build the best classroom culture you can? Let’s learn more about bringing positivity into your classroom!

What is a positive classroom culture?

A positive classroom culture creates a learning environment where students feel motivated, engaged, and excited to come to school. It lays the foundation for academic success, social-emotional development, and the overall well-being of students. When students experience a positive classroom culture, they are more likely to thrive academically, develop strong character traits, and develop a lifelong love for learning.

Why a positive classroom environment is important

A positive classroom culture can help increase student motivation, foster positive social development, and improve your relationship with all your students. Plus, a positive classroom culture helps equip your students with essential life skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, and adaptability. This type of classroom helps build a foundation for successful learning, social and emotional well-being for your students.

How to build a positive classroom culture

Every classroom is different and may take some different steps to help create the culture you envision. However, here are some overall strategies to try to build your classroom environment:

Establish clear expectations

From your first day of school, set clear expectations for behavior from your students. Consider involving your students in creating these expectations, which can help them take ownership of their actions and behavior in the classroom.

For instance, if you have tablets or chromebooks in your classroom learning center, you can establish clear guidelines for accessing, using, and storing these materials.

Encourage positive communication

Promote open and respectful communication among your students. One way to do this is through regular class meetings where students can express their thoughts and feelings. For example, you can have "Compliment Circles" where students share positive feedback with each other.

Build a sense of community

Create opportunities for your students to work together and build strong relationships. For instance, you can do collaborative group projects and class-building activities, like creating a class mural, to reinforce the idea that everyone’s on the same team.

Kodable programming game for kids screenshot on iPad

For example, if your class uses a coding game like Kodable, you can have everyone participate in a coding challenge together in small groups to help each other! Kodable is a free educational app that offers self-paced lessons and unlimited creativity activities for students to learn and grow.

Create your own account and bring this community building tool into your classroom today!

Model positive behavior

As teachers, you are role models for your students. Make a conscious effort to model kindness, empathy, and active listening. When conflicts arise, and they will arise, help guide students to resolve them peacefully and respectfully.

Positive classroom environment examples

Classroom culture encompasses the shared values, beliefs, and behaviors within your learning environment. Here are some examples of things you can bring into your classroom and the environment they will help you build.

Growth mindset

Encourage a growth mindset by praising students' efforts and perseverance rather than just their achievements. When a student faces a challenge and overcomes it, celebrate their progress, creating a culture that values learning and improvement.

Inclusivity and acceptance

In your classroom consider having a "friendship bench" where any student can sit if they're feeling lonely or need someone to play with during recess. This helps foster a culture of inclusivity and shows students that everyone cares about each other's feelings.

Responsibility and ownership

Set up a "Classroom Jobs" system where each student has a responsibility, such as a line leader or a librarian. This instills a sense of ownership in maintaining your classroom and taking care of your shared space. This also doubles as a simple classroom engagement strategy to get your students more involved in your room.

How to maintain a positive classroom culture all year round

Maintaining a positive classroom culture throughout your entire school requires ongoing effort and consistency. Here are some strategies to sustain your classroom culture:

Revisit classroom expectations

Regularly remind students of the class rules and expectations. Use discussions or role-playing scenarios to reinforce appropriate behaviors and responses. Continuously refer back to these expectations throughout the year to keep them fresh in students' minds.

Use positive reinforcement

Celebrate students' achievements, both big and small, with positive reinforcement. This can be in the form of verbal praise, written notes of appreciation, or free classroom rewards like stickers or classroom privileges. Recognizing and acknowledging their efforts will motivate them to maintain positive behaviors. For example, if your class crushes a classroom transition, be sure to let them know that they did great!

Have consistent consequences

While positive reinforcement is crucial, there must also be consistent consequences for behavior that isn’t inline with your class rules. These consequences should be fair, age-appropriate, and align with the established classroom expectations. Consistency helps students understand the boundaries and the importance of adhering to them. For more on how consequences are a part of a larger behavior management system, check out our full guide!

Hold classroom meetings

Hold regular classroom meetings to address any concerns or conflicts that arise. These meetings can be a safe space for students to express their feelings, discuss issues, and collaboratively find solutions. It reinforces the idea that everyone's voice is valued in the classroom.

Build relationships with your students

Continue to build strong relationships with your students as the year progresses. Get to know their interests, hobbies, and challenges. Show genuine care and interest in their well-being, and be approachable when they need someone to talk to.

Celebrate milestones

Celebrate important milestones and achievements together as a class. Whether it's academic accomplishments, birthdays, or special events, these shared celebrations strengthen the sense of community in the classroom.

Reflect and adjust

Regularly assess how things are going in your classroom to reflect on what is working well and what could work better. Seek feedback from students and your colleagues to make adjustments as needed to keep making your classroom management style better and better.


A positive classroom environment lays the foundation for a great year of learning and growth for your students. It won’t happen overnight, but by consistently fostering a positive culture you can build the classroom of you and your students' dreams. Happy teaching!

While you’re envisioning your dream classroom, don’t forget to bring in great STEM tools to help inspire your students. Create your own Kodable account today.