Creating a Positive Learning Environment

The Savvy Teacher

Jenny Mackay

Creating a Positive Learning Environment

The Savvy Teacher

Jenny Mackay






6 Nov 2019




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A practical guide to building confidence and well being in the classroom. 

Creating a Positive Learning Environment: The Savvy Teacher is based on the school of thought that teachers need to work with two curriculas – the first being the what they are going to teach, the ‘open curriculum’, and the second being knowing who and how they are going to teach it, the ‘hidden curriculum’. It is the focus on the combination of who, how and what that will increase a teacher’s sense of confidence and well being, and ultimately lead to a positive learning environment for their students.

This book studies four areas of classroom management — Proactive, Interactive, Restorative and Supportive. Part A: Becoming a Savvy Teacher clearly outlines the theory, practical strategies, skills and techniques that every graduate teacher needs to know, understand and be able to apply, in order to skilfully manage their students.  Part B: Being a Savvy Teacher presents common graduate teacher questions, allowing readers to dip in and read a suggested solution to their problem, with cross references to the theory in Part A. The questions in Part B are divided across four terms, and reflect the different issues that may arise as the year progresses.


  • Designed for easy navigation between the two parts
  • AITSL standards are referenced
  • Conversational writing style
  • Handy hints provide simple reminders of practical tips
  • Memorable phrases to use when faced with a difficult situation.




The First Day: Creating a positive learning environment

1 Being prepared: Proactive management

Organising the learning space
Planning for behaviour
Understanding behaviour
Establishing positive relationships
A quick reminder

2 Developing strategies: Interactive management

How do I respond to behaviour?
Settling in Steps toward interactive management
Step 1: Preventing strategically
Step 2: Correcting assertively
Step 3: Supporting empathically
Step 4: Affirming strategically
‘Be firm, be fair, be kind’
A quick reminder

3 Knowing what to do when things go wrong: Restorative management

How do I restore situations, relationships and facilitate behaviour change?
Discipline—an overview
Step 5: How can I follow through when students need to learn to behave differently and make reparation?
Strategies for students to self-manage
Reflective exercise with problem solving
A quick reminder

4 Enable yourself, enable others: Supportive management

What do I need to know to manage myself in a school — what is expected of me?
Be prepared—enable yourself
Building support and relationships with colleagues
Building support and relationships with parents
Building a positive relationship with parents
Resources for teachers
A quick reminder


Teachers’ Stories

Term 1: Proactive

1. My first day and my first class—yay, I’m good to go!
2. How can I teach my students to behave?
3. How do I get my students to pay attention?
4. What can I do about daily misbehaviour?
5. How do I settle a class so we can start learning?
6. What can I do when my students are restless and off task?
7. How do I manage when younger students are emotionally upset?
8. How do I get respect from students?
9. How can I ensure the correct use of technology in class?

Term 2: Interactive

10. How do I deal with low-level, irritating misbehaviours?
11. What can I do about a noisy class?
12. How do I manage unkind behaviours in younger students?
13. What can I do when students ignore my instructions?
14. How do I manage young students who don’t follow my instructions?
15. Why do some students take so long to move between activities and lessons?
16. What can I do about students who repeatedly seek attention?
17. What can I do when students challenge me?
18. How do I manage when students are anxious or emotionally upset?
19. How can I ensure I don’t neglect my ‘good’ students?

Term 3: Restorative

20. It’s a new term—why have my students forgotten to behave?
21. Why don’t students listen and do as I ask?
22. How can my students learn to be better organised?
23. What can I do when I feel my class is getting out of control?
24. What do I do when students blame others?
25. Why can I do when students say ‘No!’ and won’t cooperate?
26. What can I do when older students won’t cooperate?
27. What works best when applying consequences?
28. How do I manage hurtful behaviours in older students?
29. How can I build a cohesive and caring class?
30. What can I do when students are disengaged and negative?
31. How can I build students’ self-esteem?

Term 4: Supportive

32. How can I support CRTs to manage my class?
33. Teaching in a multi-cultural situation—what do I need to remember?
34. What do I do when students are really mean and hurtful to others?
35. How do I manage extremely challenging behaviours?
36. What do I do when students say they ‘don’t care?
37. How can I best manage students with special needs in my class?
38. How can I build resilience in my students?
39. How do I know when to call on the school’s behaviour management practices?
40. What can I do to maintain positive relationships with my colleagues?
41. How can I build positive relationships with parents?


Jenny Mackay provides consultancy services and runs programs for teachers across Australia in managing students, behaviour and classes across early learning, primary, secondary or tertiary. She previously lectured at Deakin University teaching pre-service teachers.

Lecturer Resources

The following resources are available for lecturers who prescribe Creating a Positive Learning Environment: The Savvy Teacher for their course:

  • Instructor’s Resource Manual

For more information about these resources, please contact your Oxford Learning Resource Consultant.