How can anchor charts change classroom culture?

As a school leader, it becomes apparent to me on a daily basis, the importance of developing and investing in the relationships of my faculty and staff.  Ask any principal if the old maxim, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” is true and I’d venture to guess 9 out of 10 school leaders would say definitely.

If it is true on the macro level of a school, it is also true on a micro level in the classroom.  The investment teachers put into establishing a trusting and nurturing environment allow students to feel safe and take academic risks.  

For the classroom teacher, one powerful method of establishing a culture of excellence and growth mindset in the classroom is to effectively use anchor charts. An anchor chart is nothing more than a tool to support instruction. These posters, which are created by teachers and/or in collaboration with the students display the most important and vital content strategies of a lesson or unit. These graphic displays show how one goes about thinking about a concept.  It provides an opportunity for students to move forward when they are stuck.

Anchor charts can be used for endless possibilities but the most common charts focus on to engaging students in learning, are used as visual reminders, help chunk complex material into bite-size pieces, build vocabulary and remind students about classroom procedures.

The best part about anchor charts is that they build a culture of trust within the classroom.  Anchor charts are visible artifacts that subtly tell the students, “I don’t expect you to know everything the first time around”,   “We work together in this classroom to help one another”, “I trust you to try to work it out yourself before coming to the teacher for guidance”.    

At the school I lead, anchor charts are commonly used from everything for reading and writing, math, and even student-led conferences.  It’s been a game changer for many of my teachers and has helped them with classroom communication and management.

If you explain something to someone and they say they understand, yet still do not do what was asked, obviously they didn’t understand.  Anchor charts combat this scenario in a non-confrontational manner. Students feel supported, develop independence and have agency in their own learning.  The best part, classrooms that use anchor charts and have this type of positive culture just feel good to be in. The teachers feel it, parents feel it, administrators feel it and most importantly, the students feel it.

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