Through carefully planning the layout of the classroom, I was able to create a physical environment that was appropriate for a wide range of learning activities. You will see that the students were seated in a circle, facing in towards each other. This circular formation allowed for easy peer collaboration and whole group conversation. Students were able to look each other in the eyes, facing each other, without having to turn around or speak to the back of a classmates head. It facilitated student self-monitored whole group conversation as they could see who was speaking and were able to take turns speaking as a group, rather than having to raise hands.
In the center of the student desk circle, is a circular table with 6 seats at it. This is one of the student workstations within the classroom. This table, as well as the long table to the side and the carpet area by the library, was utilized for small group, partner, or individual work. Students were aware of these areas and were permitted to move freely to them when working individually (students simply grabbed a clipboard and moved, should they choose) should their desk not be the area in which they thought they could do their best work at that moment. Students also used these areas when participating in group or partner guided practice. Designating the areas allowed for the students to understand that it is a working environment that is conducive to learning, but simply may be good for a change of scenery or comfort.
This classroom set-up allowed for a significant amount of student self-responsibility. While having clear rules pertaining to classroom climate, students were still able to speak freely during group conversation and move freely during work time. The exemplary self-monitorer of the week was given the opportunity to be “Star Student” for the following week. This student had the responsibility of being line leader, opening the doors for the class, handing back papers, and collecting the mail from the mailbox. Students worked hard during the week to earn this title.
When we did veer off course from our classroom rules, students were given the responsibility of calling a classroom meeting during which we problem solved as a group of people and figured out a way to not have the same problem in the future. You will see a poster from one of our classroom meetings that was called by a student because his feelings were hurt when his classmates called him names.
Creating an explicit daily agenda and making students aware of the schedule and if any changes come up also allowed for the classroom climate to remain structured. This structure also involved 5-minute reminders before we transitioned to the next block. These reminders allowed for students to complete the task they were currently working on and begin to mentally prepare for the transition, decreasing the loss of instructional time. At the beginning of each day, we discuss the objectives of the day and students were asked to continue to think about the objectives during the day’s lessons.
This classroom set-up and organization demonstrates best practice of managing classroom climate and operation that aligns with my philosophy of teaching. I believe in the importance of peer collaboration and student responsibility that are both promoted by this classroom set-up and organization. Student’s are able to work freely with each other and are given the responsibility of self-monitoring the classroom rules and operations.
Standard C - Manages Classroom Climate and Operation
1. Creates an environment that is conducive to learning.
2. Creates a physical environment appropriate to a range of learning activities.
3. Maintains appropriate standards of behavior, mutual respect, and safety.
4. Manages classroom routines and procedures without loss of significant instructional time.
1. Consistently ask students “why” questions so they have to think about what they are doing in the classroom; Ask students to self-monitor their voices as a sign of respect for their classmates learning; Desks set up in a circle, all facing in, so peer collaboration and tutoring are easy to facilitate