How’s the quality of your CCQ? [Class Climate Quotient] When we walk into a room, we get an immediate feel for the climate. As students enter classrooms at the beginning of the school year their emotional radars are on high alert, and in an instant they make a determination. If they feel safe, they let their guard down and are open to taking in new information. If, however, they feel threatened, they shut down and this initial assessment can leave a lasting imprint on their behavior.

Simple strategies go a long way in establishing a safe and welcoming climate. Greet students at the door, play music, and model positive affect, [knowing our emotional state has an enormous impact on their emotional state.] Also, allow for movement and much discussion time. By meeting these basic needs, students have an opportunity to get more comfortable with each other, which will strengthen the positive climate, as well.

If our ultimate goal is for students to learn new information and grow cognitively, we must remember this won’t happen if we don’t establish a positive CCQ. If the affective filter in our brain senses threat, our teaching efforts won’t get very far. Maya Angelou, Carl Buehner and others have summed it up well: “They may forget what you say – but they will never forget how you made them feel”.