Create the High Performance Online Classroom

To create a high-performing classroom, you need to create an environment of psychological safety and set high-performance standards. Psychological safety is by far the essential construct that you have to facilitate in your online classroom to create a high-performing classroom. The importance of creating an environment of psychological safety has been known since 1965 when two MIT scientists Schein and Bennis, wrote an article on personal and organizational change. It has recently come to many people’s attention because of the work done by Amy Edmonson, Timothy Clark, and the Google study called Project Aristotle. The Google study clearly found that psychological safety is the number one construct required for high-performing teams. In fact, without it, you cannot have a high-performing team. 

Psychological safety is by far the essential construct that you have to facilitate in your online classroom to create a high-performing classroom.

So let’s take a moment to define what psychological safety is in the online classroom. I use the definition of psychological safety from the book The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety by Timothy Clark. He defines psychological safety in five words: “an environment of rewarded vulnerability.” Think about this in terms of the online classroom. Imagine with me for a moment how powerful rewarded vulnerability is within the classroom. Let’s pause on that for a moment. Students, just like team members, have a radar where they know whether or not it is safe to put their thoughts and ideas out there for others to hear, even if they are only partially formed. Have you had that moment in a classroom where you thought, nope, I am not putting this out there? My idea will get crushed. If you haven’t had that moment, you are one of the very few.

That fear, or the need for self-preservation, felt in that moment inhibits learning. Learning is the very thing we are in the classroom to do. Fear is really a double hit against learning. My colleague, Kimberley Smarr, sees the psychologically safe classroom as a sign of leadership within the classroom. Leadership within the classroom means that you have created an environment of rewarded vulnerability where students are free to explore, learn, make some mistakes and learn from them. Typical behaviors you see in a psychologically safe classroom are:

  • Sharing of more perspectives in discussions.
  • Disagreeing and debate.  
  • Sharing and hearing contrary ideas.
  • Increased creativity.
  • Increased critical thinking.

Now we have a framework to help us create this environment. The framework is also from Timothy Clark’s book, The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety. He further breaks each stage into design and behavior. The high-performance classroom is created by design and leadership behavior. If you would like to know more, visit our Miro board. On the board, each stage is defined, and there are specific design and behavior strategies to help you build a high-performance classroom.

To learn more about Psychological Safety try the course below:

Psychological Safety: The first component for building high-performing teams

One hour. Self-paced. 100% Online and Mobile.  Psychological Safety is by far the most important requirement for building a high-performing and innovative team.  Learn about the first stage of psychological safety, which is inclusion safety. Watch the discussion with LAPU’s award-winning eLearning team as they discuss psychological safety and what it means to them. This course is worth 1 PDC towards SHRM recertification. 

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