The humanistic approach in psychology developed as a reaction to Freudian psychotherapy and behaviourist approaches. The name most closely related with this approach is Carl Rogers. In fact, counsellors talk of a Rogerian approach. Other names include George Kelly, Maslow and Csikszentmihalyi.
Key aspects of humanistic psychology include an understanding of inner experiences, a sense of autonomy and agency. Agency is used to mean the opening up of possibilities and potential. Psychologists in this field are concerned with what people are and what they may become. Therapists favour total acceptance of the client and empathic understanding. Meaning that they respect and value people's experiences without judgement. They also value "realness" of self and the capacity for self-fulfilment.
In terms of teaching, the involvement of the whole person in the educational experience is seen as necessary for successful learning to take place. Total development of the student is encouraged and the teacher's role becomes one of providing help and guidance, as opposed to leading and instructing. This could mean guiding students to work out a grammatical rule for themselves from examples the teacher provides rather than the teacher explaining it all.
The approach can be supportive and challenging when helping the students. Supportive in that the students are listened to, their needs are accepted without passing judgement and they are encouraged to share their feelings and experiences. It is challenging in that students are encouraged in the clarification of their goals and expectations, risk taking, problem solving, making their own decisions and self-direction. Students can be involved in fixing the aims for the course or just one lesson, encouraged to take risks when using the language, involved in working out rules for themselves and given time to work independently on areas they are interested in with the presence of a teacher. They can also be encouraged to give their feedback on lessons.
I think a teacher needs to be very careful when using psychology in the classroom. After all, we are teachers, not trained therapists. Sometimes people get hurt unintentionally. However, some aspects of humanistic psychology can be transformed for use in the classroom.
If you are interested in reading more, you can look at the following books by Carl Rogers: On Becoming a Person and A Way of Being.