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This content is taken from the Ambition School Leadership's online course, Challenging Behaviour: Strategies for Helping Young People. Join the course to learn more.
Young boy next to a pyramid showing Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs with a lightbulb above his head.

How can we apply Maslow’s theory into the practical realities of our classroom?

We have read that before individuals meet their full potential, they need to satisfy a series of needs. We can also assume that our students are less likely to perform to their full potential if their basic needs are unmet. Although we may have a limited influence on the home lives of our students, once they enter our school, we have the opportunity to assess their needs and then work to adapt our practice to meet these needs.

Below are the stages and brief descriptions of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Consider these stages and the questions posed in order to contribute to the discussion on this step.

Record any ideas or strategies you might want to apply to your current practice in your learning journal.

In your Week 2 workbook, you will find some of our ideas and strategies which you might want to try out.

Basic needs include food, water, sleep, oxygen, and warmth.

  • Are any students entering our classroom without their physiological needs met?
  • Are students getting all of their basic physical needs met?

Feeling safe includes protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, and freedom from fear, with an aim to reduce unfairness, inconsistency and the threat of emotional or physical harm.

  • How safe and secure do students feel in their home?
  • What strategies are in place to support the transition between home and school?
  • How safe and secure do students feel in our school, and specifically in our classroom?

Love and belonging

  • Do all students have a feeling of love and belonging in our classroom?
  • Does each student feel that they belong to a group?
  • Do they have strong relationships with their peers?


  • Do all students feel good about themselves?
  • Are we giving powerful verbal feedback to support their self-esteem?
  • Do they believe that their peers think positively about them?

Contribute to the comments section below, noting which ideas and strategies you might want to apply in your own setting. Don’t forget to have a look at our ideas and strategies in the workbook, record your thoughts in your learning journal and transfer any relevant content to your learning toolkit.

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This article is from the free online course:

Challenging Behaviour: Strategies for Helping Young People

Ambition School Leadership