“Program Standard 5. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being (Seattle Pacific University, 2016).”
During completion of my coursework for EDU 6942 Autumn Field Experience I learned that to create an effective learning environment it is the responsibility of a teacher to build and maintain a classroom that is safe and inclusive. To do this a teacher must be intentional in preparing for the needs of all students to be met in a room that has rules and procedures planned well in advance of the first day of class (Bucalos & Lingo, 2005).
The screenshot that I have included here (Figure 1) includes text that states the importance of having a teacher with sound pedagogical background knowledge who plans sufficiently for a classroom environment with systems that are conducive to student needs and learning. The result in the teachers achieving this is rooted in effective classroom management.
There are multiple components that contribute to effective classroom management. A teacher must be fully prepared to prioritize tasks while engaging students in a well-planned, caring environment.
Being fully prepared involves planning and establishing systems that must be activated starting on the very first day of school. All the effective teachers I’ve observed have stated one thing in common: they attribute a large part of their success to planning the administrative details of their classrooms far in advance of the first day of school.
Whether it is a day, a week, a month or even a year in advance, thinking ahead and preparing helps a teacher establish a clear vision for how they want their classroom to function. Classroom management must be a key focus for the first days of school. A teacher must set goals and plan for systems on how students will get supplies, line up, go to the bathroom, get drinks, and many other fine details (Heyck-Merlin, 2013).
Sufficient planning for the first days of school allows teachers to shift their focus immediately to building effective relationships with students. With a plan for procedures already in place a teacher can give their students their full attention.
Research shows that the quality of student-teacher relationships is extremely important in laying a strong foundation for effective classroom management (Bucalos & Lingo, 2005). Students can sense when a teacher is truly reaching out to them from a relational standpoint and they will almost always respond positively when they believe a teacher cares for them (Ellerbrock et al., 2015).
Teachers need to create an environment of shared trust, bolstered by an aura of appropriate assertiveness on the part of the teacher. The idea of appropriate assertiveness does not focus as much on positive or negative reinforcement to control behavior as much as it does on creating a trusting relationship (Bucalos & Lingo, 2005). When a student truly trusts a teacher, they will be more receptive to the teacher’s instruction and advice, which only increases the teacher’s effectiveness.
Of course, the above is purely theory and advice because I haven’t had the actual experience. To strengthen my ability to work toward creating a classroom founded on safety and inclusion I will need to experience my first year teaching. During this time, I plan on developing strong relationships with other teachers so that I can learn from them. Specifically, I’m interested in learning how effective teachers manage their time and organize their materials to maintain administrative control in their classrooms.
In time, drawing from not only sound research but also personal experience, I will be able to create and maintain a classroom that is ripe for both student and teacher achievement.
Bucalos, A. B., & Lingo, A. S. (2005). What kind of ‘’managers’’ do adolescents really need?: Helping middle and secondary teachers manage classrooms effectively. Managing adolescent behavior, (winter), 9-14.
Ellerbrock, C. R., Abbas, B., DiCicco, M., Denmon, J. M., Sabella, L., & Hart, J. (2015). Relationships – the fundamental r in education. Kappan, (May 2015), 48-51.
Heyck-Merlin, M. (2013, May 13). Five ways schools can help teachers prioritize. The Together Group. Retrieved from: http://www.thetogethergroup.com/together-school/five-ways-schools-can-help-teachers-prioritize/
Seattle Pacific University. (2016) Internship Performance Criteria (IPC) – Long Form for SPU Teacher Education Students. SPU SharePoint. Retrieved from: https://spuonline.sharepoint.com/sites/SOE/TEStudents/SitePages/Internship%20Evaluation.aspx