TCHERS' VOICE / Class Culture

#4: Establishing a Purposeful Culture (Back-to-School Countdown)


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Editor's Note: Find the full 10-Day Back-to-School Countdown here.

In This Vlog with Sarah Brown Wessling:

Today, let's think about how having a purpose impacts culture and drives student achievement. (You can check out some great teacher thinking about this in our Dan Pink book chat archive.)

How can we make sure our classrooms have meaningful work? What are the learning dispositions that you value?

Your Turn:

1. How do you plan for purposeful learning instead of planning for tasks? Do you have a favorite learning experience that always seems to motivate students? What about this experience do you think really "works" for your learners? Please share your comments below.

2. Check out Teaching Channel videos (and other resources, too) in order to gather ideas for projects, culture building, etc. Then save your ideas with Tch's Lesson Planner Tool. This is key to building culture, because it's when I go through my files of "great ideas" I've been collecting that I start to discern where the most purposeful learning will come from. (Our website has been updated since this "How To" video was created. Simply click "Save to My Workspace" to save a video to your Lesson Planner.)

Read our most recent #TchLIVE chat archive. It was all about building classroom culture.

Sarah Brown Wessling is a high school English teacher in Johnston, Iowa. She is the 2010 National Teacher of the Year and is the Teacher Laureate for Teaching Channel. Connect with Sarah on Twitter – @SarahWessling.


  • Private message to Sylvia Hooks
To build a community in my classes, I always allow the kids to give input in the way I teach things. They brainstorm ideas, and if they are attainable, I will try them. They love it and feel more in charge of the lesson. I love when someone says, "I thought of that."
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  • Private message to Rebecca Tyndall
Finding out what my students need: are they helpers, cleaners, do they need to talk about their morning before we get started, etc. Sometimes the little things go along way in building community in the classroom.
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