Classroom Environment

Creating a Positive Classroom Environment in Inner City

A Recipe For Success

We understand that many of you have a strong understanding of what a positive classroom environment would look like, which are the ingredients, but we want to build upon that understanding to share what strategies can be used to create that positive environment, which we have represented as being the steps.


  • Build Hope
  • Set high & clear Expectations
  • Build relationships & Community
  • Make content Relevant


To build Hope:

i. Eliminating cynicism
ii. Show students positive role models in their community
iii. Never giving up on your students

To set High and Clear Expectations:

i. Know the developmental level of your students
ii. Include students in the creation of classroom rules
iii. Make sure expectations are equal and consistent

To build Relationships and Community:

i. Learn about your students on an individual level

ii. Provide appropriate and effective feedback to all students

iii. Continue to reach out to all students and parents

To make Content Relevant:

i. Use student’s prior experiences

ii. Provide meaningful choices and alternative ways for students to display knowledge

iii. Use questioning strategies to allow for an interactive classroom

Role Play Scenario

  • Please get into groups based on the card you were given at the beginning.
  1. Building Hope = cake mix
  2. High and Clear Expectations = eggs
  3. Building Relationships = water
  4. Relevant Content = oil

Skit Scenario

You are a third grade teacher at an inner-city school. You have 22 students in your class of many different backgrounds and cultures, including 3 who recently moved to the United States. In addition, you have 5 students who have IEPs and qualify for special education services. Several of your students are below grade level and only a handful are above grade level. Your students’ minds are not focused on school but are focused on keeping a tough reputation. School and being smart is seen to them as being weak. Some have trouble trusting adults in authority, so meaningful relationships are hard to build. Parent involvement is slim and you are trying to find ways to make them a part of the learning environment. Using the strategy discussed in your small socratic circle, create a skit that demonstrates a solution to the characteristics shared above.

When you are not only aware of what is important in creating a positive environment for inner-city students, but also have an understanding of how to accomplish this, you will end up with a wonderful product. To go along with our metaphor of having the ingredients and following the steps to accomplish something great, we have cupcakes! Hope you enjoy!