Creating an atmosphere is about creating the “feel” that matches what is learned. A lesson on delight would be ruined by a dull ambience; a lesson on peace needs a calm mood. Anxiety over tests can be reduced by shifting to a celebration of what the students already know, creating a celebratory atmosphere by use of language such as “Wow, look at what you know!” Atmosphere can be established through the intentional use of music, noise, silence, lighting, color, images, body language, and posture.

  • Teachers can use balloons during a review session. These can be labeled “Triumphs” and “Disasters.” Students can pair up, such that one student may find an area difficult (disaster) that another finds easy (triumph). They can then support each other and pop the disaster balloon when the student is confident in that area. When done in a playful spirit, this creates an atmosphere of support and fun that diffuses some of the anxiety and isolation around revision.
  • When discussing a painting that is about hope through difficult and uncertain times, teachers can darken the room and put a spotlight on that painting.

The changes in atmosphere in these examples bring what is taught in line with the mood of the lesson and help teaching connect with learners.