How to Build a Classroom Culture on Purpose

How to Build a Classroom Culture on Purpose


We are pleased to have Ryan Steuer, the Executive Director of Magnify Learning as our guest writer this week. 

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.” ~Brene Brown

Can spilling your coffee or tripping in front of the class help build trust quickly? The answer is quite possibly yes! When we are vulnerable with each other, we build trust. Trust can build a positive classroom culture. The business world sees this and research has backed up the idea that vulnerability leads us to trust quicker. 

“If you’d like trust to develop in your office, group or team — and who wouldn’t? — the key is sharing your weaknesses, says business writer Daniel Coyle.” – (link)

Showing vulnerability builds trust, which is why pep sessions still work. When a learner sees their principal duct taped to a wall or their teacher covered in sundae toppings, there is a vulnerability shown that builds trust quickly. 

As adults, we need to find ways to be vulnerable with our learners to help build our classroom cultures. We need to lead this charge as servant leaders. Being vulnerable can be as simple as telling stories about our families or more structured like using ULEAD cards to create an opportunity to be silly with your learners. You could lead a rousing time of “Yes, Let’s!”. Seeing your teacher doing the “Surprised Horse Tap” can build trust quickly. 

After we have led the charge as a servant leader, who is not up on a pedestal, we want to create opportunities for our learners to be vulnerable with each other. One of the protocols Magnify Learning uses in our Project Based Learning workshops that inspires adults and kids is a Connections Protocol. The protocol is a structured way to have a conversation, and we can share personal details as well as school details. In the classroom, I would run this protocol every Monday with my Advocacy class. Sharing was voluntary, and we all got to know each other from our favorite movies, favorite foods, and eventually deeper ideas like what do we fear. 

Look for ways to share experiences of vulnerability to build trust to define your classroom culture. Protocols, ULEAD activities, or team building times are not wasted time. These experiences create a classroom culture of trust, empowerment, and engagement that will help your learners go farther faster! Jump in and make a mistake, spill your coffee, or share some weaknesses and watch your classroom culture build trust and momentum!

*Why would a psychiatrist spill their coffee on purpose? (link)

To find out more about Ryan and Magnify Learning visit

Ryan Steuer
Executive Director
Magnify Learning

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150 150 Brandy Damron

Brandy Damron

Brandy attended Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana University while working full time and raising a family. She enjoys making lists, long walks on the beach, and is a 10-key ninja.

All stories by : Brandy Damron

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