6 Top Tips to Reduce Classroom Friction

Classroom Friction"There's a fraction too much friction", or so the song goes.

Some teachers do themselves no favours.

Much of the classroom friction comes from the front because they cause a lot of it. Kids won't give you an inch if you are the cause of the classroom friction.


Reducing Classroom Friction


In the bad old days, there was a saying that teachers should not smile until Easter. The belief is that roaring and howling gains respect.

But there is also a saying that I hold true. "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

In the classroom, pleasantness generates more pleasantness. Have you noticed how your demeanour changes towards a pleasant student?

Well ... put this situation in reverse.

Unpleasantness on the part of the teacher always creates significant classroom friction which is unlikely to be conducive to any learning environment.

Snarling dogs will continue to snarl at each other as long as both continue to growl. As soon as one stops - both stop.

Classroom friction is a two-way street!

Smiling Reduces Classroom Friction

It is amazing how contagious smiling can be in the classroom. A smile is a great de-stressors for the teacher and the kids.

If you enter the cloud as a thunderstorm, you will most certainly hit a cold front.

Building classroom rapport is a significant identifier of classroom success. Building rapport is the responsibility of the person in front - the teacher.

A productive rapport de-stresses your classroom for you and your students. A stress-free, or at the very least, a stress-less classroom provides an excellent platform for learning opportunities.

Much of today's classroom stress comes from forces outside. Curriculum, performance, reporting, the boss. These external factors combine together to form a seemingly immovable object.

Well let them sit there! If you can't change these influences, live with them and move on.


Accept you have outside pressures acting on your classroom. Most are politically motivated and contain little relevance to your classroom. So leave these distractions sit until you are ready to respond.

Here are a couple of quickies to help you reduce classroom friction.

1. Fake it until you Make it.

Classroom Friction

Show a calmness even if you don't feel it.

A good strategy to display confidence is to talk slowly. This calm approach shows that you are in control.

Keep your talking volume down. Take long pauses between action points.

Kids, even the ratbags, respond to your calm leadership style by being calmer in return.


2. Reign back excitement levels.

Classroom FrictionExcitability is an exponential force which seems to generate power.

Excitable students focus on behaviour not learning.

Avoid losing control of excitability factors like shouting, quick talking and nagging. It is often difficult to calm down some kids who feed off your excitement level.

A calculated approach may reduce inherent classroom friction brought about by excitement levels.


3. Breed happiness.

Classroom FrictionSome teachers arrive at work like they have sucked a case of lemons.

If you can relate to this scenario, you are in the wrong job.

Don't get me wrong. If I had a choice, I would rather be fishing than working.

But unless you are walking miles carrying dirty water to your family, you have every reason to be happy. As far as working goes, teaching is a pretty darn good job.

4. Create a community

Classroom Friction
To reduce classroom friction, your kids need to find a place where they belong.

You will have the greatest impact if you care about their learning.

A community needs a purpose to create a sense of belonging.

Make learning your classroom common ground around which all activity circles.

5. Create folklore.

Classroom Friction
Have you noticed how successful relationships revolve around familiar stories? Mates get together and relive success stories; especially old war stories about common foe.

In staffrooms, teachers do it all the time. Sometimes you only need to start the story, and the whole group can fall on the ground laughing.

Start collecting stories about events that happen in the classroom and relive them together. Community laughing is the best way reduce classroom friction.

6. Watch your language.

Classroom Friction
Words do hurt.

When emotions rule, better judgement can go out the window. Keep your language positive and bright.

Continual ranting and raving seldom return dividends. Kids don't often remember what you say, but they will remember how your language made them feel.

Using positive language has an impact on the giver as well as the receiver.

Teacher stress is a significant issue but never get yourself into a spiral of negativity.

Change is inevitable so grin and bear it.

Reducing Classroom Friction

Teaching is challenging enough without allowing factors beyond your control to affect your mood. Try these strategies to reduce your classroom friction and notice what a difference it makes to learning.

Check out this resource that may help you reduce classroom friction.

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