The Most Important Part of the Learning Environment

George Couros
2 min readAug 28, 2016

Over my summer travels, I have heard this quote several times (attributed to Haim Ginott but may have been adapted from Goethe):

“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”

In the quote that is originally attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, this part resonates:

“If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”

As talk about learning spaces and learning environments becomes more predominant in education circles today (as it should), we must not forget the importance of a loving and caring educator in the room. One that has the ability to build rapport, give and gain trust, provides support, and pushes, all at the same time.

Every time I walk into a teacher’s classroom, I am reminded of how hard the job is. There are so many different things educators need to be, all at the same time. Simply put, the job is exhausting. But the job of educator is one of the most important in the world because the great educators not only see what students can become, they often help get them there.

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George Couros

Innovative Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Consultant. I also like dogs.