Education Q&A – April 2024

CPI’s behaviour experts discuss strategies for encouraging learners to arrive to class with a positive attitude.

29 March 2024

Can you suggest strategies for encouraging learners to arrive to class with a positive attitude? - Anonymous

This is a fabulous question and one that our trainers get asked on a regular basis. There is of course an intrinsic link between attitude to learning and behaviour and of course a positive attitude often starts at the door of the classroom.

There are plenty of strategies that you can implement which all will serve to influence children and young people to approach their learning with an open mind and a willingness to engage in the lesson. 

Building a collective sense of pride

Before we talk about how best to influence a positive arrival to your classroom, it is worth noting the values and beliefs that contribute to a change in attitude.

Pride and belonging will be central divers that fuel behaviour and attitude and so it is a good idea to best understand how we can help people feel a deep sense of belonging and pride in the school culture they are a part of.

Our first suggestion here would be for the adults to establish and even more importantly, publicly demonstrate, a sense of pride in their job. For children and young people to be proud of their school, they need to see the adults being proud to work there. Maintain an enthusiasm for the job that is infectious. Be contagious in your approach to show your love of learning visibly and audibly, your subject specialism, as well as your relentless passion for the impact you can have.

Sustainable routines

There should also be specific conversations, routines and agreements around attitudes to learning and some key expectations towards learner responsibility as well as some commitments from the adults.

Set your expectations for arrival to lesson out clearly and build this into their arrival routine. Here you can teach the behaviours you expect and for students to know what a positive arrival looks and feel like.

As part of the 5 principles taught in our Classroom CultureTM training we discuss the importance of sustainable routines and the essential elements required as we teach these learning behaviours: 

  • Focus on the importance of a simple stepped process when teaching learning behaviour routines.
  • Remain consistent as you relentlessly revisit the routine to entrench it has habitual behaviour.
  • Consider intrinsic motivators when including a reward and recognition
  • Limit the steps to no more than 5 for ease of repeatable behaviours.
  • Positively frame the steps of a routine so learners know what to do rather what not to do.

Setting aside student’s emotional baggage

Some work we also have implemented previously in our own classrooms, is to talk with our students about the ‘emotional baggage’ that we all carry around and how this can have a direct impact on our attitude to learning.

We would introduce the concept first and then discuss how we can metaphorically “leave the baggage” at the door of our classroom – for younger learners this could even be a physical and or literal activity.

We would have learners enter the classroom where there were imaginary hooks that we had previously established together where the students would store their individual baggage for the lesson. They might then then take it away at the end or leave it on there.

The hooks were for their private or personal baggage that the students didn’t want to discuss at that time. They would use the action of hanging a bag on the hook as they arrived to the classroom, as a mechanism to alert the teacher that there was something they felt may be causing them a challenge with their regulation – this might be concerns about the lesson, a conflict that was distracting them or worries from home etc.

Teacher conforts a child crying

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The teacher is then able to acknowledge and make decisions during the early part of lessons about how to interact with the young people who had left their baggage at the door.

This became a great way to work together to encourage and develop the self-reflection required at the start of a lesson. When a learner is actively considering how they feel in relation to the routine that has been established, it allows for far better collaboration as well as informal assessment of reasonable adjustments that may be required.

Some young people are far more willing to engage in this type of imaginative playfulness than others, but it allows you to consider what reasonable adjustments you are putting in place to consider the mental and emotional state of your learners as they arrive for learning.

For more answers to your questions see our Q&A introduction page.

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